The city of Ayodhya was once the capital of famous sovereign Dasaratha’s kingdom. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
This story was originally published in December 2014.
“I want to photograph the distinctive nature of the Indian subcontinent guided by the epic of The Ramayana as a common thread.”
As a child, Vasantha Yoganathan and his siblings heard a story of epic proportions. It involved gods, goddesses, a monkey kingdom and a mighty hero. These stories settled somewhere in his mind and when he visited India a couple of years ago, he found the influence of the same story, The Ramyana, very much alive in everyday India.
With more research, he realised that he had to dig deeper and depict this grand story that finds religious roots all over the Indian subcontinent.
“This project is a personal and modern retelling of a timeless myth. The objective is to produce pictures and texts that will reflect the imaginary realm emerging from The Ramayana and its influence on everyday life,” he says. So far, Vasantha has visited India three times to photograph places linked to The Ramayana.
Prince Rama was loved by all, and as the eldest of King Dasaratha’s four sons, he was about to make his way to the throne. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
After an intrigue at the royal court, Rama is condemned to spend 14 years in exile. His spouse Sita and his devoted brother, Lakshmana, choose to support him through this terrible ordeal. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
Wild with pain, the people of Ayodhya leave the city following their beloved Prince. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
At dawn, Rama and Sita leave their subjects without notice and cross the Gange river near the kingdrom of Prayag. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
Rama’s people see him leaving to late to follow him. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
Rama, wild of sorrow, travels across the country looking for Sita, in vain. He then decides to ask Hanuman for help, General of the army of monkeys. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
Rama was losing patience, waiting for Hanuman to return. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
He was waiting, and waiting. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
The season of the monsoon slows down the emissaries, who can only protect themselves from the unchained elements. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
After Hanuman discovered that Sita has been abducted by Ravana, Rama and his army launch an attack on Sri Lanka. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
After having defeated Ravana, Rama raises the question of Sita’s chastity and forces the princess to go through a trial with fire, to prove that she hasn’t been raped whilst she was imprisoned. Agni, the God of Fire, dimisses the flames of the fire. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
Although Agni has proven Sita’s faithfulness to be true, rumors continue to spread in the city of Ayodhya. Rama decides to banish his spouse, preferring to save his honour rather than his own happinness. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
Ayodhya now counts 7000 temples, the most important of them being dedicated to Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana. One can read the entire myth marked on the walls and observe the figure of the writer, surrounded by the two children of Rama and Sita. Photograph/Vasantha Yoganathan
About Vasantha Yogananthan
He is a photographer based in France. He was recently announced as a finalist in the IdeasTap Photographic Award with Magnum Photos. To view more of his work, visit www.vasantha.fr
—written by Natasha Desai
Tags: Look Who's Shooting, india, Magnum Photos, natasha desai, sri lanka, Vasantha Yoganathan, The Ramyana, Ram, Sita, Photography series, IdeasTap Photographic Award with Magnum Photos., Hindu mythology