Salem, India – A Vibrant City With Pongal Festival Celebrations

Salem, India is an amazingly vibrant city full of life and energy, while I was there, they celebrated the annual Pongal harvest festival.

The next city I visited and stayed in was Salem. I spent the most amound of time in Salem, nearly 5 days in total. By the time I got here the initial awe of India started to wear off and feelings of deep appreciation and respect were mainly what occupied me. I was insanely curious about everything around me and their culture. I tried to absorb as much of it as I could.

While we were in Salem two amazing events happened. The famous Pongal Festival and an annular solar eclipse in the middle of the day. The Pongal Festival was really fun, it’s a harvest festival where people celebrate by putting color powders all over their cows and goats. They also create beautiful patterns in the street by hand with colorful powders.

While here I tried to start focusing on capturing scenes of daily life. Looking for what is different to me is endless. Once I started just appreciating the mundane of India, that’s when the beauty of our differences started to become more evident to me.

A public pay phone
A wall of movie posters feating both Bollywood and Hollywood movies
A baby that was born a few hours ago
A man making bricks by hand

Sri Vidya School For The Deaf

I visited a school for deaf children. These boys were at the school, learning how to do Indian sign language and learning life skills to successfully navigate the world while deaf.

All Girls School

I also visited and all girls school, getting to see how India educates the young. The schools seems to be generally separated by gender there. I didn’t have the opportunity to dive into the difference in the education boys and girls get.

ABS Botanical Gardens

An Indian man dipping his hand in the seeds of an Annatto (Bixa Orellana) or Roucou. This fruit produces a natural red paint used for putting those red dots on the foreheads of Indians known as a bindi, tika, pottu, sindoor, tilak, tilakam, or kumkum.

Man dipping finger in an annatto or roucou for bindi

Sri Kailasanathar Temple

Sri Kailasanathar Temple gopuram
Sri Kailasanathar Temple gopuram

Fresh Coconut Water

A guy climbed up a palm tree and got a coconut then chopped it open and gave it to me. I definitely enjoyed the all-natural coconut water.

Pongal Festival

This is Pongal Festival. I was fortunate enough to witness and enjoy the festival and admire all the beautiful hand-drawn kolams, which are a form of drawing that is drawn by using rice flour, chalk, chalk powder, or rock powder.

White kolam in Salem, Tamil Nadu, India
A colorful kolam in Salem, Tamil Nadu, India

Annular solar eclipse

This is when the annular solar eclipse happened, it was on January 15, 2010. As it was happening the sky darkened a lot in the middle of the day, it was pretty crazy. I pointed my camera up and got this photo of it. Though the actual eclipse was too bright, my camera captured a reflection of it in the lens.

An Annular solar eclipse in India by Matthew T Rader

More Photos From My Incredible Trip to India:

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