Faces of Jaffna; A Photographer's Visit to Sri Lanka's Northernmost City

Jaffna is an intriguing city. It is located on the northern tip of Sri Lanka, where you can almost touch India, and far away from the lush mountains and palm-fringed white beaches Sri Lanka is known for. Jaffna is hot, flat and raw. Here, you can feel the Indian influence in the streets and in the food, from the colourful Hindu temples where sari-clad women and shirtless men pray and people on bicycles to the cows on the street and the bold flavours of spicy crab curry.

As a photographer and a foreigner living in Sri Lanka—I am originally from the Netherlands—it is great to be away from the usual tourist spots. I spent a few days in this off-the-beaten-path destination. As I wandered through Jaffna, camera in hand, I was drawn to people’s faces, their stories etched into their expressions and woven into the fabric of the city, a vibrant symphony of scents, sounds, and colours. Despite being an outsider, I sensed a welcoming atmosphere, a silent invitation to come closer. Feeling excited and yet vulnerable, I approached people on the streets of Jaffna. The more I roamed and the more locals I connected with, the more I could see the undeniable diversity, resilience and authenticity of Jaffna.

Through this collection of photographs, I invite you to meet the people of Jaffna who left an indelible mark on me. Each encounter was a revelation that revealed a unique face of Jaffna’s tapestry, whether it was a sparkle of curiosity in keen, kind eyes, a serene ritual of morning tea or the profound sincerity of craftsmanship. I hope my photos paint a vivid picture of Jaffna’s rich and diverse narratives.

About Kari

Kari Dooren is a strategic service designer with a curious mind, a heart for social design and a passion for photography and philosophy. Her work is characterised by wanderlust; capturing people, scenery, cultures, identities, and behaviours. Kari currently lives in Sri Lanka, where she works at the Netherlands Embassy in Colombo.

Find Kari at www.karidooren.com.

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