Resolute Faith

 

Rajesh Kumar Singh takes you through the bedlam and chaos in Varanasi during Lolark Chatt Puja, to show you the unwavering faces of devotion.

Thousands of married couples jostle for space to take a dip in the water. The ceremony itself takes a couple of minutes.

Rajesh Kumar Singh

Tulsi Ghat in Varanasi transforms into a communion of hundreds of people during Lolark Shashti, a festival dedicated to the Sun God. This festival sees thousands of married couples taking a dip in the ancient steep well of the Lolark Kund, with only one intention in mind. The sheer amount of couples who visit this place come with the hope that they will be blessed with a baby. Moreover, once the couples take a dip in the water, they leave behind whatever possessions they have on them, including their clothes, footwear, and even jewellery.

India is a country governed by firm religious beliefs, and people still continue to follow ancient traditions, despite their feasibility today. This is what I wanted to portray with this series.

— As told to Supriya Joshi

The devotees become blind to the items floating in the water, which includes vegetables, flowers, clothes and footwear.

Tips for Photographing Festivals with Large Human Gatherings

  • Don’t be judgemental. You might not share the beliefs of the devotees, but don’t let your notions cloud over the vision for the photo project.
  • Keep your gear safe. Any such large gatherings are potential hotbeds for pickpockets.
  • Talk to the devotees, find out where their sense of belief stems from. It will give you ideas for your approach towards the festival itself.
  • Look for vantage points that will help you show the scale of the gathering itself.

Rajesh Kumar Singh is a Varanasi-based photographer, whose work is shaped in the narrow bylanes of his fascinating city. He makes images with the goal to draw the viewers’ attention to the various problems that plague human society. He feels that the stories from the marginalised strata need to be heard, which is the basis of several of his photo projects.

This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Better Photography.

The couples pray to the Sun God to bless them with a child and then offer a vegetable, mostly a gourd, as form of prayer. It is believed that the couple never eats that particular vegetable again in their lifetime.

Tags: