Posts Tagged ‘ritual’

Photo Essay: A Visit to a Maasai Village in the Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania

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Portrait of a young Maasai in Tanzania

Taking great pictures of safari animals during the Great Migration was my photographic goal for my recent trip to Tanzania. Yet some of my favorite images are from a cultural visit to the Maasai (also known as Masai) village of Ndemwa, located in the Ngorogoro Crater Conservation Area.

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Maasai greeting in the Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania

The Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti offers a day trip to the Ngorogoro Crater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s largest unflooded calderas. Several Maasai tribes call the Ngorogoro Crater home, with small villages dotting the harshly beautiful landscape.

Welcome Dance at the Ndemwa Masai Village in the Ngorogoro Crater

Traditionally, the Maasai are herders. They live off of the meat, blood, and milk of their livestock. They herd goats, cows and sheep. It’s a difficult life and becoming tougher in modern times. Many Maasai now leave traditional village life to take jobs as safari trackers or security guards. These skills come naturally to men who were raised guarding their herds from predators like lions.

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Awash in color, the Maasai are hard to miss 

Like Native People in so many other countries, there are geopolitical issues at play and some want the tribes relocated. For those who stay and continue on the traditional way, additional funds are needed to buy water and supplies for the village.

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Maasai jewelry hanging in a traditional dung hut

In addition to allowing tourists to visit their villages for a fee, the Maasai also sell beaded jewelry they make.

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The Entry to the Maasai Village

The traditional Maasai live in dung huts built by the women tribe members. The huts are rebuilt every two to three years.

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Portrait of a Maasai woman surrounded by jewelry

The Maasai also practice polygamy. Traditionally a man’s first wife is found by his parents from another village, since most of the villagers are related by blood.

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Male Maasai photographed inside a dung hut

After his first wife is chosen for him, a male Maasai is free to choose his own additional wives. Each wife lives in a separate dung hut with her children and the male splits his time between each. If he can support several wives, a Maasai man can start his own village. How does TLC not have a Sister Wives: Maasai spinoff yet?

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The colorful and chaotic Maasai greeting

Maasai are also resourceful. Their footwear is made from old motorcycle tires. The ultimate in upcycling style!

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Maasai footwear made from repurposed tires

I met several Maasai during my trip to Tanzania who did not stay in the village. Maasai work as camp and hotel guards, as well as safari trackers.

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Brightly dressed Maasai in the Ngorogoro Crater, Tanzania

Some visitors to Tanzania dislike the touristic angle of Maasai village visits. Common complaints are about shakedowns for cash or overcharging for jewelry. I did not have a problem it. I understand the business angle and it’s easy to see how the traditional village way of life would require more cash flow to survive in the modern world.

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Adumu: the Maasai jumping ritual

The Maasai have a jumping ritual known as adumu, which is fascinating to watch. Both the men and women can catch some serious air!

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Maasai school in the Ngorogoro Crater

I also enjoyed visiting the school to see the one room where the village children are taught before they are old enough to herd.

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Portrait of a Maasai woman and child

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Male Maasai jumping during the Adumu jumping ritual

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Young Maasai herding goats and cattle in the Ngorogoro Crater Conservation Area

I felt it was an honor to get a brief glimpse into traditional Maasai life and very much enjoyed my visit.

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Friday Night at Barakhambi Temple in Rajasthan, India

Locals gather for chanting and worship in the evenings at Barakhambi Temple

One of the most interesting things about my recent trip to Rajasthan was just how off the beaten path I managed to get, despite being in a country of 1.27 billion people. At the suggestion of the staff at the incredible Amanbagh, I paid a visit to Barakhambi Temple  after sundown, when the the local Hindus gathered to clang chimes and worship.

Gongs at Barakhambi Temple in Rajasthan, India

It is crazy how loud a handful of people playing percussion can get inside a marble temple.

Finger cymbals and some Style swag at Barakhambi temple

The evening was unforgettable. They were welcoming and I definitely felt all eyes on me– they were not used to blonde Americans attending services, but they were very welcoming. I felt very honored that they allowed me to attend (and photograph) their services.

Watching this ritual was beautiful

There was a candle lighting ritual in front of statues of various Hindu deities. Watching this was one of those moments you experience during travel where you realize this isn’t a tourist spot, and that this goes down every night whether there is a visitor or not. It’s a big world out there, and I felt very lucky to be able to witness this and share it with my blog readers. The images in this post were shot with my Canon 5D Mark III, which works well in low light and without a flash.

Scenes from Barakhambi Temple in Rajasthan

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