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Finding the Sacred on the Sacred River

Brenda J Bancel | India

Varansi Cotton Candy

I went to Varanasi India to shoot the Hindu holy festival. I had dreams of a project titled, "Sacred Water". Having never been to India, I found myself in complete and utter culture catatonic state. I had imagined a more meditative journey, but was completely blocked by visions of cremations, dead bodies, the horrific smells and the sites of starving children and deformed animals.

On day three of my journey, I was crossing the Ganges River in a boat in order to shoot the sun setting on the city. As we were rowing away, the children that were selling prayer candles on the shore, were begging me to take them in the boat.

So I turned around and took them with me.

It was that day, that I realized what was sacred to me in India. Motherhood. The desire, or I'd say need, to protect children. Their laughter and their smiles made me feel at home. It fed me and I spent the next week with them learning about their lives, ambitions and their enormous struggles.

As a documentary photographer, I went to Varanasi India to shoot the Hindu holy festival. I had dreams of a project titled, "Sacred Water". Having never been to India, I found myself in complete and utter culture catatonic state. I had imagined a more meditative journey, but was completely blocked by visions of cremations, dead bodies, the horrific smells and the sites of starving children and deformed animals.

On day three of my journey, I was crossing the Ganges River in a boat in order to shoot the sun setting on the city. As we were rowing away, the children that were selling prayer candles on the shore, were begging me to take them in the boat.

So I turned around and took them with me.

It was that day, that I realized what was sacred to me in India. Motherhood. The desire, or I'd say need, to protect children. Their laughter and their smiles made me feel at home. It fed me and I spent the next week with them learning about their lives, ambitions and their enormous struggles.

I saw and heard of polio, molestation, hunger, abuse, disease and death. Yet, these kids were still able to smile.

Usually, I take pictures and put them out for people to see. But these photos, they took me. I won't forget these children. They've fundamentally changed my own internal infrastructure.

In my inability to change their difficult challenges in my short time there, I felt the best way to help them was to put them into school. My hope being, that education would get them off the street and eventually help the entire community.
 

bbancel@yahoo.com

www.brendabancel.com

www.take5foundation.org

 

 

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