Tag Archives: Pushkar

Musicians of the Thar Desert

Photographing a story on the Pushkar camel fair is something I had wanted to do since hearing about it shortly after arriving in India to teach photography in 2002.  In the fall of 2008, the right opportunity presented itself and I found myself under the Rajasthan desert sun surrounded by thousands of nomads.  What I realized immediately was the real story was not the fair, but the thousands of lives in the orbit of the mela.  Just as a satellite has a clear view of the earth, their lives told a story of the bigger picture beyond the surface of what any casual observer would see.  I chose to focus on just one family drawn into the fairs orbit.  Click the play button below to see the mela through their eyes. Don’t forget to click the full screen button on the bottom right for the full effect.

Musicians of the Thar Desert from Jonathan Kingston on Vimeo.

Every year, thousands of camel herders and tens of thousands of camels gather during the full moon of the month of Kartik to trade their livestock. In the midst of this mela, filled with a carnival atmosphere of tourists, hucksters, con men, and heavily mustached and turbaned desert nomads, a family of musicians counts on the festival to bring in the majority of the money they need to survive for the coming year.

Jonathan Kingston Collaborates on book about Pushkar Camel Fair

Cross posted from the Aurora News Blog Here

When Aurora photographers Jonathan Kingston, Dan Patitucci and Janine Patitucci, along with 7 other photographers, traveled to India to document the annual Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan, they were not expecting to end up with a book. However, after seeing the collective archive of imagery created by the 10 participants, they decided to gather them into a book, titled Pushkar – Gurus, Gods and Camels, which was published by CreateSpace on March 27, 2009. To view the entire book online, or purchase a copy, visit www.gurusgodsandcamels.com.

The group of photographers traveled to Rajasthan to recharge and inspire themselves creatively among the thousands of Indian nomads, gypsies, sadhus, pilgrims, camels, and tourists who travel to the Pushkar Camel Fair annually. When asked about the resulting book, Jonathan Kingston said, “Every morning we would go our separate ways before sunrise and every evening we would meet again well after sunset for dinner and an exchange of stories from the day. One evening towards the end of the fair, another photographer on the trip suggested we pool our collective images into a book and put me in charge of the project. I immediately deferred my new-found responsibilities to the Patitucci’s, who wrangled the images from each photographer, and spearheaded the production of the book. This project goes to show that spontaneous creativity happening collectively can be a powerful force.”


Image by Jonathan Kingston


Images by Janine Patitucci (left) and Dan Patitucci (right)


Image by Dan Patitucci

View more work by Jonathan KingstonJanine Patitucci and Dan Patitucci at Aurora Photos.

The Ram Ram Man

“It’s four am in the morning!Time to get up!”The annoying little man says in Hindi into the PA system that seems to be mounted above my head.I fantasize about finding the loudspeaker and doing my worst to its wiring system with my Leatherman.My mosquito net hangs dangerously close to my exposed skin and I can hear the hum of at least one thirsty little bloodsucker.Last night, like every night on my trip, I was downloading the day’s take late into the evening to get an idea of where I am with my story.I am agonizingly exhausted, but despite this fact, the Hindu man begins chanting.

Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Raaaaaam, Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Raaaaaam.

The sun doesn’t come up for another two hours and I greedily need sleep, but the annoying little man chants into the loudspeaker that seismologists can pick up on their seismographs in Deli thanks to the volume.

Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Raaaaaam, Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Raaaaaam.

I stuff earplugs into my head, but the chanting continues unabated. In my minds eye I can see the pilgrims pouring into Pushkar, as dazed from their long journey as I am by the four am awakening. They are here for a festival celebrating Brahma, who in the Hindu pantheon created the earth, and apparently liked getting up really, really early in the morning. I make a mental note of this, and then somehow manage to relax and let India flood over me in its unstoppable river of sensory overload. The chanting forms a boat in my brain, and the boat takes me across the river and somehow back to sleep.

For your listening pleasure I managed to get this sound capture of the Ram, Ram man one morning when he woke me up at 4 am.  Click to listen.