East Ham Chariot Festival

Like many of our inner city areas, East Ham is a strongly religious area and I’ve walked around its streets in both Sikh and Hindu processions. There are plenty of Muslims too, but I’ve yet to find any major public events by them in that area, or by the other religions.

The  Sri Murugan Temple in Manor Park is impressive, but I arrived there to find that the chariot procession had left around an hour earlier than the time I’d been given. Stewards I asked were rather vague about its route, but I set off in roughly the right direction and it wasn’t too difficult tohunt down given that it had a rather large chariot and a few thousand people following it.

© 2009 Peter Marshall

Although it was a very good-natured crowd, mainly of Tamils, getting through the spaces between cars parked on both sides of the narrow side streets was a little tricky, and I found myself getting pushed and stumbled, just catching myself.  But a woman told me “you’ve dropped your glasses“, she had seen them come out of my pocket and fall, but by the time I looked there was no trace of them.  They weren’t a very expensive pair, but they were a new pair that I’d only got the previous day, and it was a bad start to the event.

© 2009 Peter Marshall

I’d expected it to get pretty hot, and had decided to cut down on the kit I was carrying, so I took only one camera body (Nikon D700) though with several lenses. In fact almost everything I took on the Sigma 24-70mm HSM f2.8 which really does cover almost everything you need for such an event.

But there were one or two times when I needed something wider, but there just wasn’t time to make a lens change, or, at one point where too much coconut juice was flying around to make it possible.  And when later  in the procession I forced myself to switch to the 55-200 for a while to pick out  a few faces from the crowd and details I kept seeing things I needed the 24-70 for.  Really for fast-changing and crowded events such as this two bodies are considerably better than one.

And perhaps I need to start using a back pack to carry the stuff. It’s something I’ve resisted, largely because I find other photographer’s backpacks keep getting in my way when I’m working – and it happend a few times during this event.

There weren’t that many photographers, but  much of the action takes place in fairly limited areas and it was so crowded there was in any case very little space to stand.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

Quite a few pictures on My London Diary.

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