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Bling-Bling for the gods: Colorful wedding cars in India


In southern India, enterprising locals have turned old jeeps into sparkling wedding carriages. But the lucrative business could soon die out because of the pandemic.

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An old car and a very colorful decoration: what looks like a modern kitsch has deep religious roots

Photo: Sameer Raichur

At first, says Sameer Raichur, the men hardly noticed him.

A photographer who wants to take pictures of your parked cars?

The wedding planners laughed and kept working.

"I had to do a lot of persuading before they took the time for me," recalls Raichur.

Actually, he hadn't planned to portray cars himself.

Coming from Bangalore, a metropolis of twelve million, he drove to the country to see the production of sari robes.

Until he noticed something else on the outskirts of Tiruvannamalai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

A car that looked like a modern carriage.

Colorfully decorated and with golden figures.

Chariots are what the Indians call the disguised vehicles.

That sounds more traditional than a car.

And immediately refers to the story behind it.

There are many in Hinduism

Figures who were traveling in special wagons, so-called Rathas.

Many temples are still decorated with corresponding symbols.

Today it is mainly members of the upper middle class who can be transported to their own wedding in a chariot - wonderfully kitschy and splendid.

With welding equipment, wood and lots of paint, the cars are turned into modern carriages and then rented out for around a hundred euros per wedding.

Even parked and abandoned, the cars still look impressive.

This is one of the reasons that Sameer Raichur wanted to photograph her so badly.

"I got to know the industry through word-of-mouth propaganda," says the 35-year-old photographer.

He returned to the region several times.

And when the first pictures were finally published in a magazine and he was able to show a copy, the wedding planners were interested in him too.

Because of the corona pandemic, sweeping weddings like those celebrated in India are currently taboo.

That is why the Chariots were last in the warehouse for months.

The first have already been sold.

Sameer Raichur's photo collection has also become a kind of legacy.

But still, says Raichur, he has hope.

After all, people would always get married.

Here you can see how old cars are turned into colorful carriages in India and who the people behind them are:

This contribution is part of the Global Society project

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Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2022-01-01

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