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Aravan’s wedding

Koovagam transgender festival

Aravan’s wedding is a festival of transgender and transvestite individuals which takes place in the Tamil month of Chitrai (April/May) in the village of Koovagam in Tamil Nadu, India. It is held at the Koothandavar Temple dedicated to Aravan (Koothandavar). The participants marry the Lord Koothandavar, thus reenacting an ancient myth of Lord Vishnu/Krishna who married him having taken the female form. According to myth, Aravan had to sacrifice himself the next day to help his clan win in battle, so the day after the wedding all brides mourn his death through ritualistic dances and by breaking their bangles.

The festival also serves as a platform to create awareness for transgender discrimination and prejudice which still exist in mainstream society, not limited to India.

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Devoted

Pasqua processions, Holy week Easter processions in Sicily

Devoted. Italians take their Christian faith very seriously. And they show it in public.

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Video: Don’t call me a woman

Sandhiya from Madurai (Tamil Nadu, India) has the body of a woman but feels like a man. She wants to be called Raja only. Raja has been receiving threats for years but when they became life threatening, Raja and his mother had to quickly move to a temporary home in Chennai.

Copyright Frank Röhrig

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Ladakh – Lamayuru to Hemis

 

Lamayuru, Ladakh, India

The road begins at Lamayuru, but it already ends a few kilometers further after Wan La. No more cars from a long time after that on the way to Hemis. For generations, nothing has changed the country and its people more than the seasonal rains that reshape the valleys every year. Due to the inaccessibility of the area, Ladakhis live an isolated life devout to Buddhism and largely free from western influences.

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Kathmandu’s Spirits

Spirit_of_Kathmandu_01

Religion and religious acts are pillars of Nepali society and are an integral part of daily life. Photographed in Kathmandu, Nepal.

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India – Kushti

Kushti wrestling in Mumbai and Kolhapur, India

Kushti has its origins in Parthia (Persia) dating back to around 1000 BCE. Wrestlers submit to a stringent life codex that prescribes diet, conduct and even religion. In India, Kushti is linked to the monkey god Hanuman, so every Kushti Arkhada (school) has its own Hanuman shrine and wrestlers pray to him before a fight. Kushti is a sport philosophy that is reserved for men only.

Central to a wrestler’s life is his physical condition. Soft drugs such as alcohol, (chewing) tabacco or even coffee and tea are not allowed. Wrestler live off a high-energy diet that is supposed to build up body …

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Turkey – Lives In Transition

Lives In Transition - Turkey

Turkey is not only divided as a country between the western and eastern cultures, but a rift goes right through the middle of it because of its rapid, and uneven, development to become an industrial nation. Continued economic growth of nearly 8% means that centres of industry and trade are developing a break-neck speed, while time, and progress, stand still in rural communities. The consequences of this transition are most visible in its economic and geographical form: young Turks leaving their villages to take on one of the many available jobs in the city while the government is frantically trying to keep up with this economic migration by building colossal housing estates that can accommodate hundres of thousands. However, Turkey’s transition goes far beyond the visible – the whole Turkish way of life is under attack. Religion and tradition are crumbling, women are discovering their rights and finding their voice, busy bazaars are being replaced by glass-and-concrete shopping malls. In the streets of Istanbul, homosexuality is starting to make first public appearances.

Life is good among the super rich Istanbullus who display their newly-found wealth willingly. Money is no object for many Turks in the overpriced shopping malls of Taksim. The mix of traditionalism and unbridled consumerism suggests a comparison with Beirut. After a hard day of shopping, dinner is served at one of the suave and lavish eateries while male belly dancers wiggle their bodies between tables.

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Cappadocia Balloons

Cappadocia Balloons - TurkeyEvery morning around 90 balloons take to the skies in Göreme, Turkey. Flying conditions and landscapes are among the best in the world for ballooning. An unforgettable experience.

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Video: Homeless in Dehradun

VIDEO: The Aasraa Trust tries to get children off the street and into education.

Copyright Frank Röhrig

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Homeless in Dehradun

Street children in Dehradun, India

Dehradun (India) has a vast population of children that its fast economic development has left behind. Without home, education and care, these children roam the streets in search of garbage and handouts. Many children are forced to beg by their own families, themselves without income or home. Because children with disabilities have more begging potential, parents sometimes mutilate their own children. Other children simply abandon their home due to violence and drug abuse by their parents.

The problem is set to worsen in a growing population and a rapidly widening wealth gap between the rich and the poor.

Self-help groups and NGOs, such as the Aasraa Trust by Shaila Brijnath, try to provide a measure of care and education with limited funds and often using personal savings, to help children build a future that is worth living. Their efforts a routinely sabotaged by begging children’s parents who depend on their income. Without an education that is enabling children to enter the job market, it seems impossible to break this spiral.

Check the portfolio section for a smaller photo selection and a video…

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Cup of chai, camera, and off you go…

The streets of Uttarakhand

Grab your stuff and photograph the extraordinary life stories that unfold every single day in the streets of Dehradun, India…

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Old Delhi

Life in Old DelhiLiving in the city – Indian style. A school boy spoke to me while I was loitering at a street corner. ” You will probably find it difficult to survive here”, he announced. Hm, can’t argue with that if even Indians find that hard…

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