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.