A series of pictures taken in North India, explores the myriad ways people worship and the media they use to search for the intangible higher truth or power. Through various rituals, festivals, fire, flowers and even alcohol, India spirituality moves ahead parallel to the nation’s modern moorings.
The story travels through Varanasi, New Delhi, Vrindavan, and Bhopal. Photographs from Varanasi show an extraordinary spiritual devotion of all ages from various parts of the country. The Ganges is the soul of spirituality at Varanasi, one of the oldest cities of India, where thousands come to renew their faith. Most of these unique rituals are linked to the Ganges. People surrender their assets to the river, urging it to fulfill their dreams. Mentors bless disciples in the narrow alleys of the old city. Elders pray for a heavenly afterlife following the myth of ancient Indian King Harishchandra’s sacrifice to the society. At the famous Dev Deepavali, a unique mud light show during Autumn, a young girl has been photographed praying for her divinity.
Thousands of Buddhists from around the world congregate at Sarnath, about 13 kilometres from Varanasi where Lord Buddha first taught religion (dharma) after his enlightenment.
Temples with snake motifs are common in India. Snakes are worshiped with milk, sweets, flower, lamps and sacrifices, in lieu of blessings and luck. Nag (cobra) idols made of silver, stone, wood or even wall murals are first bathed with water and milk and then worshiped with the reciting various prayers.
The ancient twin cities of Vrindavan and Mathura in Uttar Pradesh have several shrines and Hindu temples. During the Spring, thousands of devotees from all over the world join in the celebration of colour, which is also known as Holi. Temples transform into a riot of colours; flower petals along with dry colours rain down during the prayer. Lakhs of devotees bathe in that stream of colourful ecstasy.
This photo essay sums up what India is – a juggernaut of curious people whose lives are intertwined with nature, the land is myths and reality and a nation that has come of age. Technology and modern thought aren’t divorced from India’s innate philosophy that all souls and linked and are manifested in millions of deities old and new. The experience of this is celebrated with light, colour and most importantly water. India’s rivers continue to chart its civilization and the evolution of its collective wisdom.