Culture Feast

Cultural Cacophony, The Ganges River (Ganga), Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
The frame is full
With teeming activity
Colour and humanity
My eye
Cannot find a place to rest

And then it does
But only for a moment
Until something else
Pulls it away
In this visual cacophony
Of a culture traveler’s feast

Culture Feast
The Ganga River (Ganges)
Dashashwamedh Ghat in the background
Uttar Pradesh, India

Taken during travels, 2017

The human expression of existence in India is so vivid, vibrant and varied as to seem a chaos. Of course, the Indian people do not find this so, and with enough time, perhaps I will make some small sense of it all.

Varanasi and the Ganges River represent the holiest of holy places, and the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi are ultimately sacred. As much colour and variety as this scene contains, the people here are almost exclusively Hindu, and most of those are pilgrims and tourists. I remind myself that India is heavily populated by many religions, including Muslims and Christians, and a growing secular contingent. This scene in Varanasi, then, has more continuity of culture than many places I’ve visited in India. In a sense, a little less cacophony.

Life here is expressed in so many ways, and I have hardly begun to sort out which is which, and what any of them means.

I know this. I, as a Western man, see the Ganges as filthy, polluted with toxins man-made and natural, a river of death. But to Hindu true believers, the Ganga is both pure and purifying. This photo was taken on the day of the new moon, which makes it a particularly good day to perform the bathing ritual. The ritual cleanses the bather of their sins, bringing them closer to escaping the cycle of life, death, and rebirth so that in death they may ascend directly to heaven.

Below is a tighter cropping of the above scene. Click on it for a larger image. Tell me if your eye ever comes to rest for more than a few seconds. Tell me what you see.

Tell me if, afterall, there is true beauty in every pixel of this frame. I am beginning to see it this way. Not in spite of the garbage and the filth, and certainly not because of it, but inclusive of it.

Perhaps the purifying Ganga has begun to work its cleansing power upon me?

Human Cacophony, The Ganges River (Ganga), Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India