Madurai shutterbug’s Dasara photos win a prize at Mela Moments photography contest of Ministry of Culture

Mar15,2024


Award winning photo of Kulasekarapattinam Dasara Festival by SR Sai Sanjay Prasad

Award winning photograph of Kulasekarapattinam Dasara Festival by SR Sai Sanjay Prasad | Photo Courtesy: SR Sai Sanjay Prasad

When SR Sai Sanjay Prasad left his corporate job in Qatar to return to his hometown Madurai after the pandemic in 2021, little did he know that his experiment with photography would earn him a National Award.

Out of 11,000 shortlisted entries in the Mela Moments Photography Competition organized by the Union Ministry of Culture and the Academy of Lalit Kala, Delhi, two of Sanjay's photographs were awarded the third prize and displayed as part of a larger exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art to be done. Delhi last fortnight.

The award winning photographs selected under The Third Element theme are from the annual Dasara Festival held at Kulasekarapattinam. It depicts a man dressed as Goddess Kali in the red glow of a flame against a blue sky background. “The third element is about complementary colours, moment and composition,” says Sanjay, who took the photograph during one of his many visits last year.

The local Dussehra festival is associated with a folktale in which local residents invoke the local goddess to save themselves from the torture of a demon. On this festival men dress like goddesses. Sanjay says that he went to document this unique festival for his personal collection.

Award winning photo of Kulasekarapattinam Dasara Festival by SR Sai Sanjay Prasad

Award winning photograph of Kulasekarapattinam Dasara Festival by SR Sai Sanjay Prasad | Photo Courtesy: SR Sai Sanjay Prasad

Her second award-winning photograph was taken in front of the temple, where another man dressed as a goddess stood next to her with flames in his hand and a burning coal on his tongue.

“There were around 300 photographers present that day to capture the captivating moments. I usually step away and patiently allow others to click first. “It helps me work on my approach from a completely different angle,” says Sanjay. Getting the right angle and proper lighting in a crowd is a challenge, he says.

Sanjay took several photographs of the event with his Sony A73 camera and, on a friend's suggestion, sent five photographs for the competition in January this year. “Last month I received a mail asking me to be in Delhi on February 29 to receive the award,” he says.

The Mela Moment competition, aimed at highlighting the vibrant cultural heritage of the country as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, attracted 300,000 participants from across the country. Three awards were given under five different themes and 60 best photographs were displayed at the NGMA exhibition, which concluded on March 14.

Madurai Photographer SR Sai Sanjay Prasad

Madurai Photographer SR Sai Sanjay Prasad | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“It was the happiest moment for me,” says Sai, who had invested in an expensive camera to creatively capture the landscape in and around Madurai. He says that after returning to India he started as a wedding photographer; But travel and the bright colors of culture became his choice.

Last year the 34-year-old shutterbug went to Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and returned with some gorgeous frames of Theyyam. Pulikali and Dussehra. The beautiful cultures he witnessed have now inspired him to focus on faith and religious festivals. “This is going to be my new passion project,” he says.

Madurai Photographer SR Sai Sanjay Prasad

Madurai Photographer SR Sai Sanjay Prasad | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Photo: SR Sai Sanjay Prasad

Photo: SR Sai Sanjay Prasad | Photo Courtesy: SR Sai Sanjay Prasad

Landscape photo by SR Sai Sanjay Prasad

Landscape Photo: SR Sai Sanjay Prasad | Photo Courtesy: SR Sai Sanjay Prasad

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