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Jagriti Yatra

 

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Jagriti Yatra. 16 days, 8,000km around India on a train with 450 brilliant young Indians from diverse backgrounds.

I joined this odyssey in December 2013 as the official photographer – and what an intense, surprising and joyful photographic assignment it turned out to be. Ideas, discussions, presentations, reflection, revelations, laughter, dancing, meditation, chai, more chai… And cold bucket showers….

12 destinations where we met inspiring role models, heard their stories, saw their social and business enterprises in action – in the fields of education, health, business, sanitation, culture, the environment and agriculture. From Bangalore to Chennai, Patna to Ahmadebad and the villages of Deoria and Tilonia.

I was engaged not only to document key aspects of the project, but also to explore my own visual narrative of the journey. This selection of images illustrates aspects of daily life on the train, as well as some of my most memorable encounters  and experiences off the train.

Ritual

 

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Rituals, prayers, ceremonies, pageantry.

In the holy city of Varanasi, or Banaras as it is also known, I stumbled across a fertility festival. Couples hoping to have a child were immersing themselves, fully-clothed, in the mud-coloured water. They then changed into dry clothes, leaving their wet garments strewn across the steep steps leading down to the well.  On the crammed streets above, boys of all ages were having their heads shaved, Priests bestowed blessings, and women cooked and made offerings. My tuk-tuk driver told me that this festival was an annual event and that couples having difficulty conceiving were advised to attend three times and bathe in the holy well. “After three years the woman will surely bear a child”, he said.

Varanasi is an intense city where every event, every gesture is significant.  I never tired of watching the daily ceremonies on the ghats at dusk, whilst rising at dawn was always rewarded with atmospheric images on the Ganges. Away from the river, a labyrinth of narrow back streets revealed peeling temples and crumbling shrines.

Also in this gallery there are images of Kathakali artists, absorbed in their pre-performance ritual, and photos of pilgrims, shrines and temples in Rajasthan and Kerala.

Water

 

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Images of water – the River Ganges, holy lakes, the Malabar Coast, Keralan Backwaters, rain….

Water used in daily life, the significance of water for ritual purposes, fishermen hauling in their nets across the sand at dawn, young people enjoying the sea.

 

 

 

 

Everyday

 

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Images of everyday life  in cities and villages across Rajasthan, Kerala, Varanasi and the Aravalli Hills.

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