Monthly Archives

July 2016

Europe UK

The Jurassic Coast, Devon.

Devon

Jurassic Coast 

A recent road trip to Devon and Cornwall taking in parts of the Jurassic Coast. A UNESCO world heritage site its not hard to understand why once visited. You can read more of its fascinating history by clicking this link.  The plan was to head for Lyme Regis but as the weather was good and a Bank Holiday weekend to boot it was packed. Stopped long enough though to catch a pic along the beach. Heading off we happened upon a quaint and quintessentially English village where i stopped to buy a paper and i reckoned if you want to find where the locals go to avoid the crowds what better than to ask. the shop keeper. Helped by her grandson they both conversed between themselves for a few minutes one suggestion this place and the other that until they both settled on Tyneham.

The Jurassic Coast Devon UK (1)

Lyme Regis Coastline

I had seen no mention of Tyneham on the list of places to see and visit along the Jurassic coast so was immediately fascinated. It turned out to be far more intriguing than i could initially have imagined, or hoped for. It transpired that Tyneham had been evacuated by order of the war office in December 1943. The abandoned village of Tyneham has stood quiet, ghostly and forlorn since. You can read more of the fascinating history of this place by clicking this link. Access is not always available and the entire area around it is still used today as a military firing and practice range. During military  maneuvers the road is closed to traffic, best to check in advance if it is open. Luckily for me the road was open on the day i visited.

As a consequence whilst all other places along the Jurassic coast were crowded Tyneham was virtually empty apart from the savvy locals we joined. A beautiful place and a few pictures below to prove it

The Jurassic Coast Devon UK (2)

Passed this bridge along the way to the Jurassic coast in Devon

The Jurassic Coast Devon UK (3)

The Coastline at the abandoned village of Tyneham

The Jurassic Coast Devon UK (4)

The Jurassic Coast Devon UK (5)

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Thaipusam festival Penang Malaysia 2016 (post 3 of 3)

Post 3 The 10 kilometer walk back from the Temple 

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). It is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia. I was fortunate enough to be in Penang this year when the festival was taking place. The picture post that follows is divided into 3 parts, but all from one festival day. The festival itself lasted for 3 days over a weekend.

Post 3

The final post in this series.

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (17)

Heading back down the steps from the temple to make my way back to Georgetown I am once again caught and carried by the sway and sheer exuberance of colour and sound. Exhausted by the heat and long trek up  I am nonetheless once again enthralled by the spectacle. The Kavadi devotees that come now look even more exhausted by the sheer and relentless heat of the sun.  The pictures will tell the story, as by this point i was exhausted and with little voice or energy other than trance and sway. A remarkable experience and one that will live with me for a long long time i can only recommend it be on all bucket lists.

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (0)

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (0a)

Unity, oneness, joy and celebration, the order of the day!

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (1)

This young girl was clearly having a whale of a time.

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Asia Malaysia

Thaipusam festival Penang Malaysia 2016 (post 2 of 3)

Post 2 The 10 kilometer walk to the Temple 

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). It is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia. I was fortunate enough to be in Penang this year when the festival was taking place. The picture post that follows is divided into 3 parts, but all from one festival day. The festival itself lasted for 3 days over a weekend.

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (35)

Post 2

By now it is getting close to midday as we set off on the 10 kilometer walk to the base of the temple Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Kovil. The sun beats down from overhead and the air hangs heavy amidst the humidity of the atmosphere and crowded streets. Everywhere is a riot of colour and sound as speakers pump out a rhythmic and hypnotic beat. Soon i find myself carried along by the sway of the music as we make slow walk to the temple. The pain and the endurance of the Kavadi Attam participants now clear to see, yet none that oi have seen falter. It must also be said that Thaipusam is not just about, or centered, on Kavadi Attam although given the visual spectacle of the bondage of hooks and hanging adornments this is a major draw for tourists and spectators. Thaipusam is very much a family based festival. Indeed on the plane from Singapore to Penang (which was mostly full of families heading to Penang for Thaipusam) I struck up a conversation with one man who was not in favour of the Kavadi as he felt he sent out the wrong message of this important Hindu festival and as such was a distraction. The pictures here tell the rest of the story far better than my words can describe. Suffice to say it has to be one of the most fascinating and exhilarating experiences of my life.

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (16)

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (17)

Each participant has a team of friends making sure they are ok whether it be quenching thirst or readjusting spears and pins. Each one of the cups seen in this picture is attached to the devotees body by means of a hook pierced through the skin. There are also a number of hooks lodged in his back each roped and held and pulled by the parson at back (see picture above) adding greatly to the strain and endurance of the participant.

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (18)

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (19)

Some do Kavadi Attam light preferring to support the frame to their bodies by means of a waist belt. However this is still a long and painful slog for all Kavadi Attam participants.

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (20)

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (21)

These pictures demonstrate the force used in pulling on the hooked ropes. This participant also has a very large spear pierced though his cheeks.

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Asia Malaysia

Thaipusam Festival, Penang, Malaysia 2016 (Post 1 of 3)

Post 1 The Preperation

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). It is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia. I was fortunate enough to be in Penang this year when the festival was taking place. The picture post that follows is divided into 3 parts, but all from one festival day. The festival itself lasted for 3 days over a weekend.

Post 1

Waiting at the bus stop for a bus to the festival starting point I strike up a conversation with a man from Singapore who travels with his temple community every year to celebrate the festival. He very kindly offers to take me to the preparation ceremony for their nominated Kavadi for the 2016 festival. He explained that of all the regions and communities that attend the festival the Singaporean group is the most committed to the true requirement of The Kavadi Attam (“Burden Dance”) as their devotee is speared to the flesh front and back, but also carries a metal temple on his head weighing some 25 kilos. He explained that most others preform Kavadi Atam light, using waist belts to hold the metal spines and polystyrene temples on top of their heads. I cannot overemphasise the difference and importance inherent in this given the 36 degree heat and high humidity. The nominee then has to carry the entire enterprise though this scorching heat and humidity from the starting point, a walk of some 10 kilometres, to the base of the temple Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Kovil which itself then involves climbing some 513 steps to reach the temple.  In preparation for the devotee will fast for anything up to 48 days prior to the festival day although my Singaporean friend tells me they fast for 2 weeks. Detailed explanation of Kavadi Attam below.

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (6)

Kavadi Attam

The Kavadi Attam (“Burden Dance”, also written as cavadee) is the ceremonial sacrifice and offering performed by devotees during the worship of Murugan, the Hindu God of War.[6] It is often performed during the festival of Thaipusam and emphasises debt bondage. The Kavadi itself is a physical burden through which the devotees implore for help from the God Murugan.[7] Devotees prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting approximately 48 days before Thaipusam. Kavadi-bearers have to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the kavadi and at the time of offering it to Murugan. The kavadi-bearer observes celibacy and take only pure, Satvik food, once a day, while continuously thinking of God. On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads and undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common. The simplest kavadi is a semicircular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod that is carried on the shoulders, to the temple. In addition, some have a small spear through their tongue, or a spear through the cheeks.

The description of Kavadi Attam above is sourced from Wikipedia

 

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (1)

We took the ferry from Kedah on the mainland to Penang Island

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (2)

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (3)

Preparation and offerings for the Kavadi

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (4)

The devotee who preformed the Kavadi Attam in 2017 recives blessings prior top the start of the procession.

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (5)

Blessing a child

 

One of his assistants check the pins top make sure they are all securely anchored in place.

Thaipusam Festival Penang Malaysia 2016 By David Keegan Photography (7)

The entire body frame is held in place by metal pins anchored in his chest and back but he is also speared through his cheeks with further adornments hooked into the face.

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UK

The Eden Project in Cornwall

The Eden Project

Cornwall

The Eden Project, the brainchild of Tim Smit (also responsible for the restoration of The Lost Gardens of Heligan) and designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw and engineering firm Anthony Hunt and Associates. It was constructed on the site of a reclaimed Kaolinite pit, land is situated about 3 miles from the well-known town of St Austell, Cornwall, with the  project taking 2½ years to construct it opened to the public on 17 March 2001.

The Eden Project in Cornwall in Pictures by David Keegan (1)

The Eden Project in Cornwall in Pictures by David Keegan (2)

The Eden Project in Cornwall in Pictures by David Keegan (3)

The Eden Project in Cornwall in Pictures by David Keegan (4)

The Eden Project in Cornwall in Pictures by David Keegan (5)

The Eden Project in Cornwall in Pictures by David Keegan (6)

Has a red poppy ever looked so perfect?

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