On the trail of the divine

A reminder that faith and worship are omnipresent in India, part of a grand symphonic ensemble
Curated By: Amit Pasricha
Published: Oct 28, 2016
On the trail of the divine

Image by : Amit Pasricha

Text and Photographs by Amit Pasricha
Curated by Madhu Kapparath

I grew up in a house on a street at one end of which stood a gurudwara, and on the other, a Hanuman temple. I went to a school run by Catholic missionaries and attended an Anglican Christian college. Somewhere amidst these religious influences of my growing years, the seed for a book was sown.
Religious activities are like parts of a grand symphonic ensemble, and in cities and villages, in forests and mountains, you stumble, at every turn, upon a religious rite, a ritual, a call to prayer. In far-off ruins and forgotten villages, the reprise of an ancient sacred cadence plays on. Down holy rivers and up on frigid mountains, the deep timbre of a chant freezes on the icy air. Everywhere is worship—a constant music.

When I swept my lens across India, I saw that there was no place where worship had not left its imprint. The sacred was everywhere and history, geography, politics, industry and the pursuit of wealth, culture, science—all of these were run through the same sacred thread.

I photograph in the panoramic medium, where segments of a view are digitally stitched together to create a wide image. My subjects, sometimes teeming, often bore me along physically in their surging celebrations of faith. In this sea of movement, I had to find my shot, part of which was often behind me. There was, besides, the problem of people moving from one frame into the other, creating a blur. I learned how to plan my picture seams in areas of minimal movement and to shoot a sequence at lightning speed. You could say I learned to dance, turning with, and around, the swirl of energy.

About the photographer
This is a selection from Delhi-based Amit Pasricha’s award-winning The Sacred India Book, published in 2009. He is an exponent of panoramic photography, and his third big panoramic title, India at Home, is due for release in October 2016.

A giant statue of Hanuman, the popular monkey god, looms above a metro overbridge in Delhi. This juxtaposition of the modern with the mythical is typical of the many contradictions of India. In Hindu myth, man, beast and divinity are often seen to easily coalesce into one entity, illustrative of the unity of all created things.