Living on a Prayer
Shantanu Das explores a diminishing community of Zoroastrians keeping the faith alive in the historic seaside town of Udvada, Gujarat.
You are not likely to find young people in Udvada. Most of its residents are over 50, since the youth have moved to other places in search of opportunities. But the old ones left behind are quite resilient and interesting. One such person is a 90-year-old hotel owner who wheels himself around his ancient home within his hotel’s premises. He is hard of hearing but likes his daily dose of glamour that comes with the newspaper. My idea was simple, I wanted to capture the spirit of this heritage town, and gradually ease myself into the homes of many such inhabitants. I found rare glimpses into one of India’s most private communities, and into a people who live in the hope that a faith that has managed to exist since 6th century BC will survive the tests of time.
How to Familiarise Yourself with the Members of a Community
- Speak to the people and spend a lot of time listening to their stories. It is really difficult for someone to open up to a complete stranger, and empathy is the only bond that can help.
- Be respectful towards their rules and culture and accept the people as they are. If someone tries to be friendly and offers you a glass of water, take it. It will help you enter their world.
This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of Better Photography.Tags: portraits, Documentary, Gujarat, abandoned, October 2013, Zoroastrians, faith, dwindling, Parsis, Shantanu Das, udvada, seniors, rustic, traditions, kusti, alienation