The Soul of Kashi

In Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound”. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards and forwards, it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. ~ Don Draper
This is the exact feeling that Varanasi and its people evoke.  The faces each have a different story to tell and the conversations here are always peppered with wit, humour, and a little bit of divinity.
A man takes a siesta on the ghats.
Clowning around with props.
A lighter moment between lessons.
A game of cricket never hurt anyone, except when the ball hits you.
These young priests sit spectating the ongoing game of cricket.
Conversations over a cuppa.
Contemplating the mysteries of life on a riverbank, what more could one ask for.
I loved taking this capture as this ascetic was busy in his own world.
Know your future through the various ascetics who roam these ghats.
For a paltry sum, this ascetic was happy to pose for the camera.
This young priest-in-training was shy, yet he divulged that he was skipping his morning classes as his parents were visiting him.
This one was a drama king; jumping between the lit lamps and chanting Har Har Mahadev.
Early morning scripture reading at the Ghat.
We met him near the chai shop and he was happy to oblige for a photo.
Sitting in peaceful meditation among all the chaos is definitely a feat.
An ascetic holding a trident and ewer.
People have tremendous faith in this river and take a dip in it to wash their sins.
Even the shivering cold water doesn’t deter the believers.
Revering the Sun God, by offering water after a dip.
Age has no bearing when it comes to devotion.
A woman walks past colourful cloth spread out to dry.
Women worship the sun god with incense and lamps.
After a dip in the Ganga, married women apply crimson on each other.
One of the oldest dhobi ghats (washer-men’s wharf).
Small trades still rule the city; here a classic Banarasi paanwala.
Our morning cuppa maker.
An old ascetic selling beads by the riverfront.
Even on the river, there is an opportunity to shop!
The boatman cum shopkeeper’s ware on display.
Beginnings of mouth-watering kachoris.
Drool-worthy jalebis upcoming with a side serving of smile.
Steaming hot jalebis straight out of the syrup.
Kachoris, sabji, jalebis, and chai make for a perfect Banarasi breakfast.
Work in progress on palm leaf paintings.
Banarasi sarees can be some of the most expensive cloth. It is weaved with silk and gold.
Here the silk threads are ready to be spun into beautiful creations.
This 80-year-old weaver still practices his craft by hand.
Although in most places machines are taking over this ancient craft of weaving silk into the full 9 yards.
From raw to the finished product.
A Banarasi saree getting ready to be shipped and sold.

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