In the ‘Daily Photos’ area of my blog I recently published a portrait of a Nepali woman attending a puja for a relative who had died one year earlier.
One of my readers commented:
“Its an absolutely gorgeous photo, I’ll admit. And I would have taken it, but somewhere a voice inside my head says, ‘Is it right to photograph people in mourning?’ I come across this dilemma often. There’s a great shot waiting to be taken, but shouldn’t there be common restrictions about recording people if they’re in mourning for a family member? It’s a lack of respect, isn’t it? Could you imagine a funeral of a loved one with someone on the sidelines taking photos of the whole process?”
In my response to her I explained that the puja was for a relative of my adopted family in Nepal, that I had permission to take photos throughout the day, and that when I took close-ups, I asked individual permission. In fact, I shot so many hours of video at the event that it has taken me more than a year to get around to editing it into a short feature that was small enough to upload to YouTube, and my family gently reminded me they were waiting for me to do so on several occasions. Continue reading
For more than a week, Semana Santa (Easter week) celebrations have been occurring in Copper Canyon, Mexico. I was fortunate to attend two of these, one on Palm Sunday in the tiny Tarahumara village of Cusarare and another on Good Friday in Cerocahui, where I joined in a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Christ, but from the beginning I have been looking forward to the main attraction on Easter weekend. For this reason alone I have returned to Urique Canyon; I hope to witness the Tarahumara Indians perform their mystical religious rites in the village of Guapalayna.
In mid-afternoon on Saturday, I joined the other guests staying at Cabanas San Isidro Lodge for the two hour drive to the bottom of the canyon. With no hotel facilities in Guapalayna, we planned to stay overnight in Urique, rising early on Easter Sunday morning for the short drive to the Tarahumara settlement. At least that was the plan. Unfortunately the hotel where we had reservations had other ideas. When we arrived, there was “no room at the inn.” Our reservations had been turned over to guests who wanted to stay more than one night. Since all accommodations in town were totally booked we drove back up to the canyon rim, placated by assurances from the lodge owner that we would return the next morning in time for the festivities.
Beginning in the mid-1600′s, Jesuit monks began converting the Tarahumara to Christianity. The Jesuits succeeded where other had failed, most likely because they allowed indigenous peoples to merge their traditional native beliefs with Catholicism, resulting in peculiar animistic/religious ceremonies that are today staged on religious sacred holidays, Easter being the most important celebration of the year. On Saturday afternoon, loose Continue reading
For the final days of Semana Santa (Easter Week) celebrations I returned to Urique Canyon, although this time I stayed atop the rim rather than at the bottom. After a hard day of travel on the economy class El Chepe, which was standing room only for the entire journey, I gratefully climbed into my plush bed at Cabana San Isidro Lodge, pulled three blankets up to my chin to ward off the high mountain chill, and was instantly, dreamlessly asleep.
The following morning, after a delicious breakfast of homemade biscuits and marmalade, French toast, and eggs scrambled with onions, peppers, and cheese; the lodge van delivered me to the small community of Cerocahui. This village of 900 residents, tucked into a high mountain valley dotted with apple orchards, is dominated by an impressive church that was constructed upon the crumbling adobe ruins of a Jesuit mission abandoned in the early Continue reading