11 March 2011

Photographing a Sikh funeral

I've been sitting here for five minutes looking at an empty screen.  How do I put into words the funeral I was asked to photograph this morning?  It was big, and at times it was intense.

I'm going to borrow some words from The Southampton Daily Echo website here...

"Mrs Jeet Kaur died on Monday, aged 78, after battling Lymphoma and Pneumonia.   After moving to the UK in the 1960s, Mrs Kaur became well known within the city’s Sikh community, for her vast knowledge on the Sikh culture and was seen as a leading figure within the community.  She leaves behind four sons, seven daughters and 148 grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

Having photographed a wedding for the family last year I expected the numbers of people attending the funeral to be big, but nothing prepared me for the scale of it.  11 limos, and 10 coaches transported everyone from the Southampton City Centre family home to the Southampton Crematorium.  The police were holding traffic back as the convoy lead by a horse & carriage made its way out of the city centre.

At the crematorium there were so many people packed inside that it was all but impossible to take photos so I waited outside.

The intensity reached a climax when I was asked to follow members of her immediate family around the back to the incinerators.  If like me you'd expect to see a slow gentle movement of the coffin into the incinerator, much like when the curtains close, it's probably best you stop reading now.   In what can only be described as a "violent action" the family pushed the coffin into the incinerator with lots of emotion.

Intense doesn't begin to describe it.  It was a moment that will live with me forever.

Mrs Jeet Kaur.  RIP.

About the photos on this page. I took lots of photos throughout the morning, most as I'm sure you can imagine will be very personal to the family, hence I'm being very careful with the ones I post here.


Dave said...

Thoughts go to the family, but I am sure you provided a professional service as always.

Jessie said...

My Grandma =,( wish i was there to see you off the Greatest and strongest woman i knew i love you so much. R.I.P my dear Grandmother.

michaelp42 said...

I hope the photos, when you get them through the family, help just a little bit Jessie.

Lynda Colley said...

The write up you have provided here with these photo's Mikey gives an idea of the sheer scale of the respect and love felt for this lady. It is really quite moving to see the numbers of people and vehicles that attended and formed the cortege.
Due respect to you also Mikey for being the trusted professional asked by the family to cover this very personal event.

Jessie said...

Thank you for taking the pictures, they all came out very well and each one has demonstrated how much we appreciated her. You are a great photographer. Im glad that you was able to take photos of her with all of us last year during her good and last moments of life.

Suraj said...

Great work Mikey, brilliantly captured from the pictures you've posted here.