Families come from all over India make the pilgrimage to the holy capital of India - Varanasi . also known as Banares. In this photo the women accompanied by their husbands are heading to the ghats to participate in Chhath puja, a four day festival to honor the Sun God for health and wealth. The men are carrying the bags of fruit that the women will use for the ritual to bless their husbands and children.

  • Image 1 of 12

Chhath Puja ( Holy Water )

Lisa DuBois | Varanasi India, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Rwanda, Laos, Paraguay, Nepal, Nicara

Organization: En Foco

For thousands of years Varanasi (Banares) has been known as the spiritual capital of India.It is believed that fasting and practicing puja in the Ganga River will purify the soul and remove negative karma from present and past lives. Puja is the worship of a diety or God.Chhath  Puja is a festival devoted to the Sun God celebrated on the riverbanks in Varanasi.  

This festival demonstrates a distinction between feminine and masculine energy.Women stand in the cold river for hours before sunrise burning incense and holding baskets of fruit as an offering to the Sun God while the men remain in the backgound. The instant the sun peeks over horizon, the fast ends and the feast begins.

Water is associated with cleansing in all cultures.Water rituals have been practiced since the beginning of time. Our connection with water is multifaceted. We are cushioned in the womb in a watery fluid. Our bodies are made up of 60% water and the planet is 71% water. There is a familiarity in our souls that relate to water in a significant way.


Photographing spiritual ceremonies stirs in me an emotional response that I can visually translate to others. I am drawn into a different world surrounded by the intense energy of mindfulness, music and dance. I capture the spiritual. 

My interest in documenting water rituals began on a trip to Varanasi, the most sacred place in India. I was captivated by the intensity radiating from the people on the Ganga River practicing rituals. It became obvious that being in and around water has a profound impact on the intensity of the ritual itself.

My interest on water rituals grew deeper, I learned about the late Dr. Masaru Omoto and his tests on the complex nature of water and how its quality is affected by the thoughts of people. He concluded that the quality and structure of water changed in a negative way when exposed to a harsh environment. I believe that it works both ways, we are also affected emotionally by water, A beach can have a healing effect on a person. Biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols wrote a book called Blue Mind which details this phenomenon and how living near a body of water can decrease a person’s level of stress.

Content loading...

Make Comment/View Comments