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Images: details from photos by Maninder Singh.


The Spirit of Hola Mohalla:
A Photo Exhibition




For more than 13 years, Ambala-based mechanical engineer and entrepreneur, Maninder Singh Sodhi, has never missed Hola Mohalla, a festival that’s also known as the Sikh Olympics. Maninder has seen and documented every session of the festivities - up, close and personal.

The result: a collection of over 1,000 photographs. Forty of those have found find their way to a photography exhibition titled “The Spirit of Hola Mohalla”.

While one photograph evokes the enthusiasm and fervour with which the festival is celebrated at Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib in Anandpur Sahib, with people indulging in martial arts, another captures their daredevil approach, with a man standing on a running motorbike.

“I have tried to summarise the event and bring out its best in this photo essay exhibition,” says the 48-year-old, standing near the photograph after which the exhibition has been named - it’s a snapshot of nihangs as they climb on to a tree to get a glimpse of the festival.

Amongst other works are those of simulated mock battles, gatka moves and fun events. While a photo titled ‘Weapons of War’ showcases the historical weapons used by the Sikhs, ‘American Dream’ zooms in on a man with a scarf with an American flag on it. As for ‘Colours of Joy’, the picture captures people playing with holi colours.

Also finding place in the exhibition are snapshots of the langar (community kitchen), of men indulging in sword wielding, jousting and other sports.

Maninder has earlier showcased these photographs in Washington, D.C., U.S.A. and also in Toronto, Canada. His short film by the same title was selected and screened at the “The Spinning Wheel Film Festival” in Toronto.


Maninder Singh, a mechanical engineering graduate from R.E.C Kurukshetra did his early schooling from Convent of Jesus and Mary, Ambala Cantt., and high school from Punjab Public School, Nabha, Punjab.

A keen photographer, he credits his photographic skills to his father Sardar B.S.Sodhi, a President of India awardee in ‘Excellence in Photography’. Ever since he was a child, the emergence of black and white images out of nowhere in his father’s darkroom with a single red bulb dangling - it was magic unveiled !

Maninder has been an avid traveler round the world. He has lived and worked in North America as well as Japan. He believes in the adage that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. It should be able to tell a story howsoever miniscule - and it must generate a little bit of curiosity in the viewer's mind. It can be about its composition, colour, the human touch, the foreground or the backdrop - it must appeal to the eye.

Having been associated with the festival of Hola Mohalla for the last 13 years, he has a sense of satisfaction in documenting the sequence of events at this festival in simple but meaningful images. He believes it is his passion which has led to this exhibition.

The exhibition is on at the Alliance Francaise Art Gallery, Sector 36, Chandigarh, Punjab, till September 26.

[Courtesy: Indian Express]

September 18, 2011


Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), September 18, 2011, 7:50 AM.

This is really great!

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A Photo Exhibition "

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