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Well, someone just woke up to see this thread being winded down. In my defense I can say that I was intending to ship this series off for publishing, but this fell through so I'm putting it up for your viewing pleasure.
I shot this in early November last year but the weather (and the whole ambience) was certainly wintry. So here's for your viewing pleasure... the Mari pagan gathering. This nation inhabiting the Mari El republic in the Volga midstream has been dubbed "Europe's last pagans" (dunno if the GEO magazine title has stuck, or the author drew on some "common knowledge"). Either way I'm not sure that they're really the "last" but the subject was nevertheless interesting and inspiring. My distant relative, Stanislav Snopchenko, lives in Mari El, and even though he's not an ethnic Mari, he knows a lot about these traditions - and organized a trip for me with the aid of the local government's chief photographer.
Collecting monetary donations.
Geese are being cooked.
The worshippers are bringing loaves of bread and towels.
The default picture for shooting this event is a goose paw sticking out of a cauldron. These B's are never gonna be IF again...
The letters are Cyrillic but the language is completely different, Uralic in origin. And you know how Uralic languages are...
The worshippers gather in sacred groves outside the villages / cities. Smaller scale assemblies are common, but the All-Mari one like this is only held once every two years, I was told. For this, people were coming from as far afield as Surgut.
(to be continued)