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A feast for the eyes and the soul

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

The soul of any culture lies in its festivals, for around this pivot revolve customs and traditions, reflecting the lives and times of its people.

The photo exhibition titled 'Hungarian Cultural Festivals', by Gyorgy KonkolyThege, renowned travel photographer from Hungary, presented the country in a new light to its viewers.

Konkoly-Thege, an economist by education, has followed his passion for photography for more than 20 years now. Being a globe-trotter, having visited over 100 countries till now, his exhibitions have been presented to both national and international audiences.

Why the sudden change of path? The photographer clarifies: "After finishing my studies, I worked for a few years for an export company. Around that time, I stepped on Indian soil, though only for a day, for the first time. This was way back in 1982. Within a few years, I realised that a formal office routine was not my cup of tea. After dabbling in business, I started selling my photographs, which had become, by then, a good collection."

His exhibition in India, inaugurated by the Ambassador of Hungary H E Gyula Petho, is an amalgamation of four major Hungarian festivals:

* Sziget: one of the world's most iconic music festivals. KonkolyThege has been coveringit for more than 10 years and has visited all 24 festivals.

* Ozora: along with the Solar United Natives Festival, is one of the two sizeable psytrance festivals in Hungary.This event saw a record number of 60,000 visitors in 2015.

*Mediawave: a small festival, though an active and familiar one in Komarom.

* Kurultaj: Organised every two years in Bugac, this is the largest traditional festival in Europe, celebrating the preservation of ancient traditions ~ for example, the tribal assembly of the Hun-Turkic nations. This festival sees guests from 27 nations like Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Turkey and Bulgaria.

Every artist derives his/her inspiration from some source. What is Konkoly-Thege's? He explains: "The ambience of the festivals is really relaxed, which makes taking photographs easy. Moreover, my main focus is on the visitors, the side events and all the unique things associated with the festivals. In some countries of the world, photography can be challenging, as people do not prefer being photographed. Another inspiration for me is nature. I have visited 102 countries of the world and the colours of nature are simply baffling."

The exhibition's message, as per Konkoly-Thege, is to bring the culture of his homeland to India ~ a country known for its diversity. Having visited India about 40 times, almost 6-7 times in the second part of the 90s, making documentaries on India, he simply loves India. April is but a hot month of the year. Konkoly-Thege retorts "Last year, I was in India during the month of August, when it was both hot and humid. Now it is only hot."

The exhibition, a joint initiative between the Embassy of Hungary and The Hungarian Information and Cultural Centre, communicates not only the message about the festivals of the country but its rich culture, its history and the bonding between humans during times of festivities, which are of great social importance.