17/11/2016 4:07 PM IST | Updated 18/11/2016 7:44 AM IST

This Photographer Has Been Documenting The Sikh Festival Hola Mohalla For 18 Years


Maninder Singh Sodhi​

An Ambala-based photographer, Maninder Singh Sodhi​, has been documenting the famous Sikh festival of Hola Mohalla for 18 years. The engineer-turned-photographer learnt to use the camera from his father.

"I have learnt the finer techniques of photography from him and in a way he taught me 'how to write with light'," according to Sodhi. "For me, photography is a natural way of expressing my love of the outdoors. In a way I live with photography."

It was in 1998, when he accompanied his father to the festival, that he took his first photos of the festival. He was trained to be a mechanical engineer and he was in his 30s at the time. Since then, he said he has returned each year to take photos.

The Sikh festival is celebrated annually at Sri Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. It was believed to have been started by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, making it a tradition from 1701. In the festival, the Sikh warriors, called "Nihangs", take part in mock military exercises.

Below are some of his beautiful photos taken through the years. Some of the earlier ones are shot on film while the later ones are on digital cameras where he has experimented with different lens. He is now raising money on crowdfunding site Wishberry to publish the best photos from the last 18 years in a coffee table book next January on Guru Gobind Singh's 350th birthday.

While he has exhibited his photos in various parts of the country and travelled to Washington DC in 1999 for an exhibition, he wants to show the evolution of the Sikh festival to the rest of the world through his photographs.