Naveen Gowtham

Poochoodal (Wearing Flowers)

Naveen Gowtham is an independent documentary Photographer from Tamil Nadu, India. Last eight years, he has been documenting his own surroundings and people. His works focus on expressing the life and lifestyle of the people of the region. He is particularly interested to capture the diverse emotions of the people. This springs from his belief that each human being is a universe and each of their eyes is an Ocean.

Poochoodal (Wearing Flowers)

One day I come across a school during a journey. As there was a lot of time before the classes start, the children were not in a hurry and were walking playfully. I took out my camera and started capturing those moments. After a while, a little girl passed by, staring at my camera for a few seconds. She then came near me and asked, “Anna, what are you doing? Are you taking photos?” Her curiosity didn’t stop there. “Show me the photos Anna, I really want to see them,” she said. She was so short while standing next to me and hence, tried to look at the camera by standing on her toes. Then I sat on a stone and showed her all the pictures. I asked her if she liked them. With a shy smile, she said, “Ahhh super Anna.” It was a million-dollar smile for me. It was when the girl was about to leave, I noticed that she was wearing crossandra flowers on her braided hair. While she walked to the class, the flowers on her hair seemed to smile at me. The little girl's innocent smile and the bright hue of crossandra flowers stayed with me throughout that journey.

From then on, I started noticing women through the flowers they wore. And did a lot of research about "wearing flowers", which in Tamil is called "Poochoodal”. I heard several stories from people all around. Even though Poochoodal may seem like a simple habit, it has a long history. There is also a cultural continuum over this practice. Beyond all these, there is an absolute beauty in it. The women who indulge in such practice are holding an innocence that is pure. That’s how I started documenting that innocent beauty through my camera. Thus born the Poochoodal series.

 

I talked to many women while creating this series. “Why do you want to keep flowers on your hair?” Most of them didn’t say anything but smiled with shyness. Slowly, I realised that some questions may not have answers. For those women, wearing flowers was just normal. We can’t question some habits of humans, can we? When wearing flowers, those women might be feeling a kind of completeness. Whether it is jasmine, crossandra, hibiscus, lily, rose or plumeria, they all give out fragrance. Even if the women who wear those flowers fail to smile, the flowers keep smiling.

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