Indonesia, Sumbawa Island. Once a game between neighbors to celebrate a good harvest, horse racing in Sumbawa was transformed into a spectator sport by the Dutch in the 20th century to entertain officials and nobility. The unique features of Sumbawa racing, are the notoriously small horses and the fearless child jockeys, aged 5-10, who mount bareback, barefoot and with little protective gear. Today, Maen Jaran takes place during every important festival and holiday throughout the year at racetracks across the island and remains a favorite pastime Sumbawans. The series has been awarded 1st prize at World Press Photo 2018 in the Sports Stories category.
The Val Saint Lambert Crystal Works established in 1826 remains the crowning jewel of Belgian heritage and a symbol of unparallelled quality for almost two centuries. Master craftsmen and crystal among the clearest in the world have brought renowned international acclaim to the glassworks company from the industrial region of Liège that employed up to 5 000 workers by 1900. For centuries, goods primarily moved from East to West along the Silk and Spice routes. By the 19th century, Maharajahs, Nizams, Nawabs, and other members of Indian aristocracy with a taste for opulence, were turning to Europe to procure the most lavish items their disposable incomes could buy. Belgium's Val Saint Lambert, eager to export its savoir-faire, answered the call with panache offering made-to-order crystal chandeliers and other objects which soon adorned palaces, homes, mosques, synagogues and shrines throughout India. This is the exclusive, untold story of a year-long journey in search of VSL crystal across India. Published in National Geographic Holland/Belgium edition.
Living for Death
In Toraja, Indonesia, the rituals associated with death are complex and expensive. Therefore, when a person dies, it can take weeks, months even years for the family to organize the funeral. In the region of Pangala, the Ma' Nene, or cleaning of the corpses, ceremony takes place after the rice harvest. Coffins are removed from their burial sites and opened. The mummies are cleaned, dried in the sun and given a change of clothes. Expressions of sadness are mixed with the overall happy atmosphere surrounding these moments of bonding with loved ones and honoring ancestors.
Kushti is the traditional form of Indian wrestling. Practiced in an Akhara, the wrestlers, under the supervision of a guru, dedicate their bodies and minds to Kushti on average for 6 to 36 months. It is a way of life and a spartan existence that requires rigorous discipline. Experienced wrestlers set the example and transmit their skills in the pit and in the community to the younger boys (7-8 years old) and new recruits, whereby promoting camaraderie, solidarity and fraternity.
Who will save the Rohingyas?
The Rohingya Muslim minority of Myanmar, who are subjected to discrimination and human rights violations and have been stripped of all rights including citizenship, are now living in IDP or internally displaced person camps. In June 2012, a cortege led by radical Buddhist monks, civilians and police slaughtered people, burned down homes and mosques and displaced 140,000 Rohingyas forcing them into camps on the outskirts of the city. Now more than 600,000 have fled to Bangladesh. While the country's historic turn towards democracy should be encouraging, the plight of the Rohingya people is far from over and on the ground the prospects for this traumatized minority look rather grim.
India. Dreamland. India, people sleeping, day and night, alone or in groups, are an integral part of the Indian landscape, in what we would consider rather unusual places, they find it perfectly normal to curl up in the middle of an intersection, on a stone by a temple, or on a cart.
India, Hyderabad. The Day of Ashura is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks, for Shia Muslims, the climax of the remembrance of the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala (now in Iraq) on 10 th of Muharram in the year 680 CE or AD. The massacre of Husayn with a small group of his companions and family members has ever been remembered with sorrow and passion by Shia Muslims. The Sheikh of the mosque retells the story of the Battle of Karbala to allow the listeners to relive the pain and sorrow endured by Husayn and his family. Participants congregate in public processions for ceremonial chest beating. Certain traditional flagellation rituals use a sword. Other rituals involve the use of a chain with blades. These religious customs show solidarity with Husayn and his family. Through them, people mourn Husayn's death and regret the fact that they were not present at the battle to fight and save Husayn and his family. Some Shias also believe that taking part in Ashura washes away their sins.
India. In Jodhpur, Rajasthan, for 3 days the ceremonies of the royal wedding between Param Vijay and Kumari Kamakshi are followed by hundreds of guests of Indian nobility and aristocracy under the patronage of His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Mawar-Jodhpur. Punctuated by sumptuous banquets at lunch and dinner, the crescendo is the Nikasi, ceremony whereby the groom, accompanied by the Baraat, a male-only procession led by drummers and musicians, crosses the city on horseback (elephant in the past) to the wedding venue where his bride awaits. The nuptials begin at midnight and at the precise predetermined, auspicious time, a Brahmin priest presides over a series of rituals to consummate the marriage. Finally, on the third day, the bride removes her veil and the couple receive their guests.
Tierra Santa theme park in Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the Holy Week of Easter, reenactment of the life and death of Jesus-Christ, the path of the cross
L’Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse in Belgium is an historical region that lies in between the Sambre and the Meuse rivers. Separating Germany and France, two fiercely combative nations, the area endured incessant, often devastating passages for centuries. Over time, the locals acquired a taste for the sumptuous uniforms and the pomp and circumstance surrounding the processions that traversed the villages and countryside carrying the relics of saints preserved with great devotion. These processions have existed in the region of l’Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse for centuries. Today’s processions and marches, which take place primarily in the region between the Sambre and the Meuse rivers, are the continuation of ancestral practices. They owe their enduring popularity not only to faith and historic imitation, but also to the magnificent landscapes of this isolated region where customs and traditions have remained unchanged for centuries.
Belgium, Walloon Region, Hainaut province, the town of Binche, the Carnival of Binche whose first written records date back to 1394 is recognized as a masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO since 2003. The Carnival of Binche culminates on Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, with the only official, codified outing of the some 1000 Gilles of Binche from thirteen companies following a strict code of dress and tradition.
India, Agra, on the Ganges River only a few meters away from the Taj Mahal, one of the most visited monument by foreign tourists, a baby, recently deceased, is thrown into the Ganges by family members. While traditional Hindu funerary rituals call for cremation, babies, children, deaths from serpent bites and ascetics are often buried.
Brussels the capital of Europe, is a melting pot of languages and cultures with a constant flow of immigration. Today 30% of the population of Brussels is foreign. This largely mixed character that shapes Brussels identity makes it a unique place open to the world and help people embrace this mosaic of cultures, traditions, languages and beliefs that characterize Europe today.