A Hindu Wedding
Photo by Martin Parr (2009)
Text by Farraz Akbar and Gema Satria
This photo shows a party involving several people with different sets of clothes. First we can see that there are two people sitting at the dining table, and two people standing. One person from those who are sitting and one from those who are standing is lighting the cigarette of someone else. These four people is giving the impression that they come from different social class backgrounds. The two people who are seated seemed to belong to the same class, while the two people who are standing looked different from each other because one person is wearing a military uniform which connotates that he is an assistant lighting his superior’s cigarette.
The people here are in the middle of a party that is visible from the activities of the people in the two layers behind them. One layer shows the audience, while the last layer is a collection of catering workers. The very front layer also shows the plates of the former party food bundle with a round table. Technically, this photo is taken with technicalities that is not too complicated, simply using Parr’s built-in camera’s flash. As mentioned earlier, Parr appears to use the layering composition method to determine the different roles / activities.
As a photographer, the fundamental idea that became a reference point for Parr in this work was to highlight the difference between the mythology of the place and the reality that appeared. He also often makes serious photo works but disguised as fun or entertaining photographs. He has also mentioned that the images he made often did not sharply display the true meaning, “if you want to read it, you can read it” he said to the interviewer who asked about his views.
This photo is part of the photo series titled ‘HINDU WEDDING’ (2009), in the series Parr shows an Indian / Hindu-style wedding which slightly breaks the assumption that the event is full of ritual activities and symbols (for example, incense or a statue of a god). The wedding party shows a celebration that is similar to a wedding in general.
Another interesting thing from the photo is how Parr shows how the caste system is played out in everyday events. The caste system is one of the community structures that is still held today by many Hindus. In relations to this photo, the people in suits look like Brahmins, then the aides can be considered the Kshatriyas, and the catering workers of the Vaishya caste. In addition to being shown by Parr’s layering technique, this caste system is also shown how the same two activities, namely lighting a cigarette, are carried out by two people from different castes.
This work can be displayed in several ways. For example, Parr once had an exhibition that contrasted the fun aspects of a wedding event in this series with a quieter beach atmosphere. (although the photos requested in this assignment seem to also not “crowded”). This Hindu wedding also shows how the caste system is played out in everyday life.