Luis Fernando Medina Salazar

Northern Rainbow Festival, Nyurba, Yakutia

Mexican photographer Luis Fernando Medina Salazar drew many readers to his first article about Nyurba, A siberian Travel Tale. Naturally, when he asked me if I could publish his article about the Northern Rainbow festival I was interested. And, after having seen his photos and read his story, I am happy I agreed. This really shows the Siberian north in its best light and puts a lot of emphasis on a little known culture like the Sakha. If I am going to count readers only, the Polar areas always draws more readers than any other area the Guest Writers are touching. I really don´t know why, There´s something with the extreme cold and darkness which faschinates people´s imagination more. Not surprisingly, whilst getting moved north by Luis Fernando´s photos, you realize, this is one of the most colorful places on the globe. Enjoy!

Northern Rainbow Festival in Nyurba, Yakutia


Luis Fernando Medina Salazar

Empty streets in the village of Nyurba could give the impression at first sight to be in a ghost town in the wild west. The cold was one reason of such a solitude but actually, what kept the city like staying still in time was a folk fest. Little by little spreaded groups of people appeared from everywhere going towards the same big building. Once inside, the contagious party atmosphere  with music coming from all rooms in the place; flocks of dancers performing their last acts before stepping on the stage; improvised food-court serving the most delicious region specialities and the joy that could be seen in everyone’s faces, could easily be compared with some of the most colorful Latin American carnivals.

For 2 days the remote town of Nyurba, in the Republic of Yakutia in far east Siberia, became the hotspot of the Sakha Culture & Traditions and hosted a Folk Fest organized by the Foundation of the people of Siberia with the same name “Northern Rainbow”. The Foundation’s president Alexandra Borisova explained to me “The Sakha people express best their feelings and thoughts through their folk with songs and dances”.

Well dressed dancers and performers evoque the world’s most elegant royalty of all times. Seductive movements and voices, like those just imagined in fairy tales, took you for a long lasting trip back to the origines of mankind. You could believe for moments, by listening to those melodic voices, that nothing was impossible anymore.

In spite of the outdoors freezing cold weather, that last 9 months with unimaginable tempertures that could drop to a -70 Celsius deep inside Siberia, the heat inside the Cultural Hall was increasing as the kick off for the Festival approached. The colourful outfits together with the joyful dances and music supported by the warm Sakha heart breaks with the stereotype  ”In a Cold region there is cold people”.

The Sakha people keeps a very strong and close relationship with the Nature, which is expressed in their believes as well as in their folk. Dances and songs dedicated to animals and spirits of the Nature are performed one after the other. “What impress me the most are the beauty of their voices and the connexion with nature shown in every one of the performances” said Dimitry Todorov, president of the Bulgarian Folk Association and part of the jury in he Festival in Nyurba.

Sakha folk does not only posses a great variety of  dances and songs but also, a diversity in music instruments which are also very fascinating.  Jew’s-harp (khomus), symbol of the spiritual culture of the Olonkho Land, is used in more than 100 countries. There are 162 known modifications of khomus. With its 5000 years of history, the instrument is the same age as the Pyramids of Egypt. The more fascinating is that it is still being used. The horse whip plays also an important role in the everyday sakha life style, it is used in dances but also in rituals and ceremonies which are performed by “shamans”. The Northern Rainbow’s festival audience had the opportunity to appreciate the use of many other wooden music instruments, most of them are hand-made and have a tide relationship with the sakha identity.

Acrobatic jumps with a cat’s agility kept everyones attention on the stage during the 2 days festival. The popcorn stand was the most visited by the people during the breaks after each performance. The full concert hall gave the best scenario to motivate the dancers with screams and applauses from a friendly audience to encourage them to give their best. Folk groups came from several villages around Nyurba to attend the Festival with the intention to get the first place of the event but also, to make some new friends and to enjoy this opportunity and dress up with their best clothes and show everyone the beauty of the Sakha folk.

The corridors towards the main stage were packed and all you could distinguish were the colours of the rainbow in every participant’s outfit who were waiting for their turn to jump under the reflectors and rip up the dance floor with their best dance steps.

As everything in life, there is a begining and there is also an end in every situation. After 2 days of adrenaline running through each cell of my body, running up and down the stage to capture the best impressions of this unique culture, i felt wrapped into a warmness that i could compare with that felt at home, where your most beloved persons comfort your with their souls and bodies and from where you wish not have to leave and make this moment simply endless.

Luis Fernando Medina Salazar is a Mexican freelance Photographer and Traveler living in Lucerne, Switzerland.

With a deep individual Vision he tries with his project “PASSENGER DIARIES” to describe the World and interpret its people; events and festivals; issues and personalities; reflecting all aspects of life throughout the Planet Earth with imagination and brilliance in a great collection of documentary photography. He gives a SENSE OF THE PLACE as far as it can be caught by the lens.

The main purpose is to inspire people through the images collected in all my years living abroad and having the privilege to travel the world for over 20 years, counting so far 20 countries in different continents, to explore magical and unknown places. Joining my 2 passions in life as a freelance photographer and adventurous traveler I share ideas, thoughts, a shared human quality, a curiosity and respects about what is going on in the World and finally to express it visually. I took my first picture at the age of 15, in a trip to Patagonia, Argentina with my family, where my interest woke up and my passion to capture beautiful and unique moments of life was developed.


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