According to Professor M. Madhavankutty in his internet essay on Elephant Festivals in Kerala, the tradition of having a majestic pageant of parading elephants as part of religious events is perhaps 250 years old. “Kerala has a few thousand temples, churches and mosques, each of which hosts annual festivals. Elephants form an integral part of the festivities in most temples…”
About Kip Harris
„My name is Kip Harris. I’m a retired architect now living in Nova Scotia. I got seriously interested in photography when I spent a month traveling through England, Scotland, and Ireland with a camera I had borrowed from my wife. I was worried that having a camera at hand would make me look for things to take photos of. Instead I found that looking through a lens made me view the world with greater detail and honesty. I became a better looker.
Since that time, I have exhibited in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe with four solo and over one hundred group shows. My work has been published in Shots Magazine, The Photo Review, Art Reveal, aCurator, Smithsonian.com, Street Photography Magazine, Barren Magazine, and a number of on-line photographic sites.
I am primarily a street photographer. For about 10 years, I’ve been working on a project dealing with people in their workplaces. That project has taken me to a number of countries. I do street work mostly with Leicas. Right now I’m using a Monochrom 246 with either a 24 mm / 2.8 f or a 35 mm / 1.4 f lens. I shoot in available light and hand hold my camera. I process the images in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro.“
I was able to attend the festival in Kunnamkulam as part of a photographic workshop run by the renowned street photography, Harvey Stein, in 2017. These festivals are a mixture of religious ceremony, family reunion, county fair, and animal auction. Thousands of people are drawn to the event where they are treated to live music, a variety of food vendors, acrobats, lavish regalia on the elephants, and an overall atmosphere of celebration.
The elephants are well treated and cared for. According to Madhavankutty: “Because of their constant use in temple festivals, elephants are considered part of the life and society in Kerala. For Keralites, elephants are not wild animals; loved and adored, they are their own kith and kin.” Most importantly for me was the incredible gentleness with which the elephant minders handled their animals. This is a lifetime commitment.
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