I must admit that I was tempted to just post a picture of the guy that currently occupies our oval office…
I thought that might be a little crass so I opted for a different interpretation for this week’s challenge: Dense. I took this photo from a small boat off one of the largest Ghats in the holy city of Varanasi, India. Tens of Thousands of people gather every night to participate in the prayers led by the holy men along the banks of the river Ganges. Our guide told us that during the religious holidays, Varanasi is the densest population center on the planet. While I cannot verify that information, our attempt to exit the area after the prayers certainly had to go through one of the densest and most chaotic traffic jams I have ever seen.
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Yellow.” Whenever I see one of the these Challenges that are color related, I almost always turn to my photos from India. I found the colors there to be extraordinary everywhere you looked. I can always find a photo which highlights any color selection imaginable – so a yellow themed photo was easy to find. This photo was taken in the early morning as the crowds were assembling on the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi. Everyone was headed for their morning prayers and baths in the sacred river. These ladies caught my eye as we passed by because of their stunning yellow saris.
I always look for interesting signs while in unusual places. This one caught my eye in Varanasi, India – along the banks of the Ganges River. How can you not buy tea or rent a boat from this proprietor? After all, he guarantees “No Problem”!
If you’ve been to my blog before, you probably know that one of our joys is being able to travel the world and see it through our own eyes rather than just the filter of the daily news. I went back to our India/Nepal trip of last year and picked out just a few of my photos that I haven’t shared that say Joy to me. I say “a few’ because there are so many more that I could have used….hope some of these bring some joy to you.
This photo was taken as we walked around a small Indian village to see how the locals lived and worked. This little girl was one of numerous children who followed us around and seemed greatly amused at their own pictures that I showed them.
This is from that same village where we visited a local school and were blown away by the enthusiasm and joy that the students took in their studies.
I captured this solemn moment at Buddhist temple in Nepal. Obviously a visitor like us (by the camera strap in the photo), she was enJOYing a moment in meditation while spinning the prayer wheels at the shrine.
Our Indian guide was gracious to let us join in his celebration of his wife’s birthday. In her honor, he decided to pass out small food packages to the poorest of the poor in the city of Varanasi. This man was expressing his appreciation to my wife as she handed out some of the packages.
Couldn’t think of another way to express this. These young men saw me taking pictures along the banks of the Ganges River and wouldn’t stop waving and greeting us until I snapped their smiling faces. I can imagine the disney tune “its a small world after all” playing every time I see this photo.
I’m not sure who enjoyed this impromptu meeting more – my wife (on the left) or these young female college students that we met at a university outside of Varanasi. They were as interested in who we were and where we were from as we were in their studies and lives and as students.
This man was very involved in his son’s progress in learning his father’s trade. Their expressions and manner showed pride in what they did and also in their relationship.
I thought this little girls smile was amazing and it made me think of how different her life as a gypsy was from ours in the US. They were in an ox drawn cart on a major highway -obviously carrying all their possessions – but enjoying life in a very different way.
Our trip was an amazing experience and we were exposed to many different cultures and religions. One of the things that struck us was the joy and serenity that most of the people in that part of the world take from their beliefs. I thought this photo captured the individual focus of those beliefs – a stark contrast to our more communal system in the west. A quiet joy to close my post….
I decided to go back and look for another “eerie” photo. I went back to my India photos and came across one of my favorite photos from that trip. This man was preparing his morning meal and tea along the Ganges River in Varanasi. What drew my eye right away was the mural of Mother Teresa’s gaze looking over him. I thought it had kind of an ethereal feel to it which is again amplified by the B&W treatment. It may not be perfect for this challenge but it is an opportunity to share one of my favorite photos with you……
Where else would I look for a photo for “saturated” other than my India album. Virtually every picture I took there could be used for this challenge – of people, of places, wildlife, whatever! I did a quick scan of those photos and chose this one that I hadn’t posted before. This is a scene I captured along the Ganges River in the city of Varanasi. As you may know, this is considered a very holy place in the Hindu religion and every day features religious activities attended by thousands upon thousands of pilgrims. This holy man was sitting in front of a mural depicting some of the primary gods among the hundreds of million deities in the Hindu religion.
In a land (India) that is well known for, lets say, logistics issues – it was nice to see a sign that promised that there would be “no problems” – and I guess that applies to either your tea OR your boat! Reassuring? Taken along the Ganges River in Varanasi, India.
Here’s another couple of my “from the car” photos from India. The common thread here is that they are both candid shots of motorcycle riders. This first one is of a young lady passenger on the back of a cycle in a small village outside of Agra, India. This is one of those inadvertent shots where the subject (the young woman) was highlighted by someone or something passing in front of my camera on the left side – adding a nice blur to that side of the photo and putting all the attention on the girl.
The next photo is of a young couple on their motorcycle in an intersection in Varanasi at night. We sat in the SAME SPOT in that intersection for at least 10 minutes with absolutely no movement in any direction. This couple were just outside our car window so why not capture them for posterity….. 🙂
A pretty easy challenge having recently returned from India and Nepal. I’ll focus on the Indian Hindu culture this week and their relationship with their temples. As you may or may not know the Hindu religion has millions of gods – each signifying some aspect of life. This can be mystifying to a Westerner but we were lucky enough to have a wonderful guide (and friend) to help us understand this rich, complex religion. There are millions of temples throughout the country. While some are very large and ornate, the vast majority of them are small, private shrines which can be found anywhere. They can be as simple as a small altar or even a rock with a place for a candle and other small offerings. Our guide visited numerous altars in the course of his daily activities. He would stop our car at a roadside temple, leave money or other offerings at small temples in the backstreets, or just bow to show his reverence anytime he saw an altar we were passing by in our travels. We were also impressed when, to honor his wife’s birthday, our guide went to the market and bought numerous small packages of food which he then distributed to some of the poorest of the poor in the city. It was obvious that his faith was very important to him and that he “lived it” everyday. In Varanasi, the local guide told us that there were over 70,000 temples in that town alone – having walked the back streets and alleys of that town, we certainly believe it – you basically couldn’t round a corner without seeing another altar. My photo for today is one of the small temples we saw in Varanasi – just big enough for a single person at a time – I was lucky enough to capture a smiling holy man peering out from the shrine.
I normally don’t keep very close to what the Challenge host has posted as an example of the challenge but today I think I’ll stay on the spiritual theme – especially after our experience in India. This theme is very appropriate when talking India and the Hindu religion as individual enlightenment and reincarnation are such cornerstones of their faith. We were lucky enough to spend a few days in Varanasi – where thousands upon thousands of Indians make a pilgrimage each year to visit, bath, and pray by the Ganges River. This first photo is of a holy man praying while standing in the Ganges. He was totally immersed in his faith and appeared totally at peace despite the throngs of people around him.
To give you an idea of the crowds, this is a photo from a boat on the Ganges looking back at the evening Aarti or prayer ceremony. Again, thousands of people show up every night to join in this ritual. At the main Ghat on the Ganges there are 9 priests conducting the ceremony in unison. You can see one of the holy men in this photo in the lower center of the picture waving the smoking urn.
The last photo is of an Indian man at sunrise on the Ganges. He managed to find a solitary perch above the river to meditate on. I thought his face was a perfect expression of his faith and his belief in the future(s).