“ There can be as many spiritual paths as there are spiritual aspirants, and as many Gods as there are devotees.” – Sri Ramakrishna
In the winter of 2007, twenty-four American photographers traveled together to capture the essence of the vast and mystical land of India.
The country unfurled before us, welcoming us with surprising warmth and inspiring us with curiosity. Our skill level, ranging from beginner to professional, allowed us to capture threads of India’s intricate cultural tapestry.
When looking closely at the photographs, you may hear the noises and smell the scents of India’s cities. The cities rumble with the motion of their inhabitants while the intermingling fragrances of spice, incense and waste contribute to the intoxication of being witness to it all. After being in India a short time, we understood the Hindus’ respect for meditation as a calming balance to stimulation.
Everywhere we looked, we saw influences of the Hindu religion. Hinduism, the third largest religion in the world, is old and deep as India’s beloved river Ganges. And we got to know it about as well, meaning we touched but its surface. Hinduism's gods and goddesses appear almost as numerous as its followers, and its traditions seem as variable as the way light subtly plays on the facets of Jaipur’s Palace of The Winds. The more we looked, the more we realized how much there is to explore, how much more there is to know about the people, their ideas, and the landscape that holds them.
Our photographs are the result of free access to the intimate details of daily life in India. The Indian peoples’ curiosity encouraged us. Interestingly, there is no word in Hindi for “privacy.” The people did not hide behind their curtains or shut their doors in our faces. We photographed them brushing their teeth, washing their clothes, getting their hair cut, disciplining their children, worshiping their gods … just being who they are, all out in the open. For us, people from a culture where most daily events occur behind closed doors, where we defend privacy at all costs, the openness of the Indian people was sometimes shocking, other times amusing, but always an intriguing reality for us as photographers.
Crossing cultures, and being allowed a vision of “others,” seeing “differences,” if you will, let us experience similarities first hand. We were able to enjoy, and get past, cultural and language barriers. Our hope is that you will be able to see the connection and commonalities between us and our subjects in these photographs.
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