Today’s image was taken earlier this year at the temple complex of Swayambhu part of the World Heritage-listed site of Swayambhunath. Perched on a hilltop overlooking Kathmandu, the location is significant to both the Hindu and Buddhist communities and is a place of pilgrimage for each. Described by Lonely Planet as;
“a fascinating, chaotic jumble of Buddhist and Hindu iconography (with) ancient carvings jammed into every spare inch of space and the smell of incense and butter lamps hanging heavy in the air”
The location, like so much of the Kathmandu Valley, was impacted, but thankfully not destroyed, by the 2015 earthquake. My memory is that I was somewhat precariously positioned on a piece of rubble in order to get a favourable angle on this scene.
I’d like to think of this image as a piece of story-telling. Isolating the main players within a throng of people is problematic and the image relies on a brief gesture. Having watched for a few minutes before taking the shot, I anticipated the gesture itself as it was repeated with successive people coming forward to receive a blessing. The recipient, the “holy man” wearing his amazing metal hat, and the more senior man watching over proceedings are all essential figures in the story but, I think the key is the young girl on the right watching so intently. Is she the woman’s granddaughter? Perhaps, there is an obvious connection.
Is it a perfect depiction of the scene, probably not, is there such a thing? I wonder whether giving some more space to the right edge of the frame may have improved the picture but I didn’t what to introduce too much extraneous background either. As it is, I did some work in processing to tame down some of the highlights and colours in the background figures to prevent, as far as possible, those drawing attention away from the main players.
This image is part of my Nepal 2017 image gallery. ~KD.