Thursday, February 17, 2022

Culture and heritage - Part 1


Yesterday I was speaking to a friend of mine and during the course of our chat, she asked me if I had a was her way of telling me to go back to blogging.  I thought about it and realized I do miss blogging, I miss having a conversation and sharing my slice of life with you. Turmeric n' Spice started as a recipe blog to document the recipes that were passed on and my experiments in the kitchen. Soon, it opened new opportunities for me and before I knew it I was deep into photography. With so much time spent doing photography, I had little or no time left to maintain a blog. Like everything else, a blog does take time and it is a labor of love. Then what has changed you may ask? Well, nothing that really meets the eye but a whole lot in the last few years. 

The last few years have taken me to a place where I am extremely conscious of how and where I use my resources, especially time. Having said that, I really want to spend more time on what I love to do. When speaking to my friend, I realized how I miss blogging and maybe it is time to take some time out for blogging and sharing my journey here. It could be recipes, photography, updates, or just sharing. I am not going to obsess about recipes but I will share recipes as and when I can. 

I am contemplating between sharing a recipe or a body of work I created last year. I think I am going to share my work here today and I will come back with a recipe next week. 

Sometimes at the end of last year, I created a portfolio for Adobe that showcased my culture and heritage, there was a lot about food too. It was a unique opportunity and I am so glad and grateful for it. Here is a link to all the images I shot. I will share a few of my favorite images from this portfolio and probably share my thoughts behind them. Each image is curated by a team, I worked with Adobe closely to formulate a concept, work on the logistics and finally shoot. I shot about 1200 + images and we picked about 500 to be included in this collection. 


I wanted the collection to have a mix of still-life as well as celebratory images, where I share how we celebrate not just festivals but how we celebrate our lives. When it comes to still-life, I wanted the images to be bold, colorful, and showcase my culture. I wanted to bring symbolism and color to my images.

 The lotus is a sacred flower. Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu are often portrayed on a pink lotus in the iconography. You can also see Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Saraswati, Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, and Lord Kubera sitting on a lotus throne. The lotus symbolizes the inner potential, grown in swamps, it is your inner journey from the web of the material world to the true realization of who you really are. I really wanted to include this symbolism in the still. 

The peacock feather is a symbol of Lord Krishna, one cannot think about the peacock feather without thinking about Krishna. It is often attributed to representing the cycle of time. 

I also used a banana leaf, if you have ever visited the Southern part of India you will see that the authentic meal is always served on the banana leaf. I will not go into the details of the symbolism but on a practical level, it is the perfect biodegradable plate. 

I included the betel leaf and nut - which is an important part of an offering - called tambulam. 

"Tāmbūla consists of a variety of ingredients wrapped in betel leaves. Typically, it includes areca nuts, edible camphor, slaked lime, saffron, and other fragrant herbs. It is one of the 16 offerings in ritual worship, occurring right after food offerings.

There are numerous reasons for elevating the commonly consumed paan to a sacred offering. On a gross level, it aids digestion, particularly after heavy meals. From an Āyurvedic perspective, it ignites Agni, specifically that associated with digesting food. If you’ve ever chewed paan, it’s a delightful experience of the perfect mix of disparate flavors that remains in your awareness long after it is eaten and swallowed. The lingering flavors permeate the senses with lasting freshness.

On a subtler level, it represents our ability to digest the experience. Normally, our ability to digest experience is uneven. We hang on to the unsavory ones and forget all the good that ever happened to us." - - Dr. Kavitha Chinnaiyan

The lamp, Haldi (turmeric), and kumkum are quintessential parts of an offering. To me, it was the five elements coming together: fire in the lamp, water through the lotus, air through the peacock leaf, earth through the betel leaves and the earthy backdrop, and space through the aroma of everything coming together. 



The above two images were shot during Diwali the festival of lights - the two women are decorating the house for Diwali. I wanted to really bring out the traditional elements in a modern setting. The wooden floor is a subtle way to bring in the modern home. 


The image above is a true representation of sisterhood. I have always been extremely lucky to work with strong women. I also believe that when we create together magic happens and this image is really a true representation of that for me. 



The above two images were shot in Seattle in my friend's dance studio. She is a classical Kuchipudi dancer. The shoot was magical. We worked for 5 hours without break and neither one of us realized it, till it was pitch dark outside. I will be sharing a post on the dance form and the mudras ( hand gestures) that I have captured. 

Girl in Sari


The traditional South-Indian filter coffee,  served traditionally in a tumbler and a cup. 
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