Dev Deepawali in Varanasi
For a long time since school, I remember being intrigued by this city that lies in my very own country, but in a region which is absolutely unknown to me. Going through photography magazines, I developed a certain interest in knowing what lies in this supposedly holy place and came across this grand festival that happens only there.
Come November 2016, I decided to backpack for a week to try and understand and document this extremely vibrant, active and a little crazy city. Having a penchant for street photography, I aimed at bringing about the atmosphere that unfolds at this grand occasion and capturing the main essence of the event. The people who came to pray and those who came to experience this fascinating ceremony also became a vital part of my visual journey.
Day one started with just me roaming around the intricately knitted and mind boggling alleys without the intention of getting any moment on camera. Shortly, an overload of stimuli hit me straight up, needing me to only observe and make mental notes of the sights that intrigued and pleasured me.
With days passing and few frames shot, I began feeling closer to and driven by this project - a project I thought about in my time on the train. Capturing the vibrance and setting up shots from vantage points then came to me; something that lead me to go on top of worn out temples and other structures to see a scenario, that looks so limited and differently from the ground.
I also mainly wished to photograph this huge very distinct change that came about in the city and the people from days before the festival. The preparations on ghats, the influx of pilgrims and visitors, the many lives intersecting so effortlessly at a tea stall, the boom in all businesses that thrive on religion and the ghats, to the final showdown that I got to witness from a perfect vantage point.
A very wild multitude of emotions is what I felt as I moved my feet from that terrace of the temple for the first time in six hours. Exhilarated, content, happy and grateful. But still pretty much intrigued.
On my way to the hostel well past midnight, I figured passion and curiousity can indeed push me to the extremes of photographing life, its surroundings and places. A combination good enough for me, I concluded.