Photo feature

The many faces of faith, as seen through a photographer’s camera

Nilanjan Ray’s images reveal the myriad ways in which religion binds together Indians.

Heads and bodies bowed in reverence, the cleansing fire burning at the altars, stacks of sweetmeats and offerings, and extravagant pageantry. Visuals like these recur in Nilanjan Ray’s images, reiterating with every frame the place faith takes in the lives in so many Indians.

Ray, a photographer and banker, began clicking pictures of faith in Varanasi, Bihar and the temple towns of South India a few years ago. Done in black and white, the photographs of devotees in temples, monasteries, churches and mosques, and religious processions, document the little ways in which religions manifest in India.

Photographer: Nilanjan Ray.
Photographer: Nilanjan Ray.

“A religious faith is not a collection of people who share beliefs,” said Ray. “It is a community of people who have made the commitment to trust one another to care for each other’s spirits and souls, and who join together for a common purpose.”

An exhibition of his photographs, Faith: A Quaint Emotion, is on display at the India International Centre in Delhi till December 6.

“When people visit a place of worship, there is something unique about their facial expression,” said Ray. “To me, the way their hands are folded, or the way they contort their bodies or prostrate themselves, is almost artistic.”

Photographer: Nilanjan Ray.
Photographer: Nilanjan Ray.

Not a religious man himself, Ray nevertheless believes in the presence of a higher, spiritual power.

Photographer: Nilanjan Ray.
Photographer: Nilanjan Ray.

Ray’s best work comes from Varanasi, the ancient city chronicled by generations of artists and photographers. The Varanasi in Ray’s pictures is poetic: multitudes throng the ghats of the Ganga, half-submerged humans join palms in prayer, all of them waiting for salvation.

Photographer: Nilanjan Ray.
Photographer: Nilanjan Ray.

While the premise of Ray’s project is fairly simple, his photographs are barely so. In Faith: A Quaint Emotion, there are insights into the elaborate, and sometimes opulent, ways in which a person appeals to a higher power.

Photographer: Nilanjan Ray.
Photographer: Nilanjan Ray.

For Ray, there are two sides to faith. “Pure Faith is the kind of trust that you hold even when your rational mind says you should not. It is a double edged sword. At times, being able to have pure faith is a blessing, at other times, blind faith can do more harm than good.”

Photographer: Nilanjan Ray.
Photographer: Nilanjan Ray.

Faith: A Quaint Emotion is on at the India International Centre till December 6.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Bringing your parents into the digital fold can be a rewarding experience

Contrary to popular sentiment, being the tech support for your parents might be a great use of your time and theirs.

If you look up ‘Parents vs technology’, you’ll be showered with a barrage of hilariously adorable and relatable memes. Half the hilarity of these memes sprouts from their familiarity as most of us have found ourselves in similar troubleshooting situations. Helping a parent understand and operate technology can be trying. However, as you sit, exasperated, deleting the gazillion empty folders that your mum has accidentally made, you might be losing out on an opportunity to enrich her life.

After the advent of technology in our everyday personal and work lives, parents have tried to embrace the brand-new ways to work and communicate with a bit of help from us, the digital natives. And while they successfully send Whatsapp messages and make video calls, a tremendous amount of unfulfilled potential has fallen through the presumptuous gap that lies between their ambition and our understanding of their technological needs.

When Priyanka Gothi’s mother retired after 35 years of being a teacher, Priyanka decided to create a first of its kind marketplace that would leverage the experience and potential of retirees by providing them with flexible job opportunities. Her Hong Kong based novel venture, Retired, Not Out is reimagining retirement by creating a channel through which the senior generation can continue to contribute to the society.

Our belief is that tech is highly learnable. And learning doesn’t stop when you graduate from school. That is why we have designed specific programmes for seniors to embrace technology to aid their personal and professional goals.

— Priyanka Gothi, Founder & CEO, Retired Not Out

Ideas like Retired Not Out promote inclusiveness and help instil confidence in a generation that has not grown up with technology. A positive change in our parent’s lives can be created if we flip the perspective on the time spent helping them operate a laptop and view it as an exercise in empowerment. For instance, by becoming proficient in Microsoft Excel, a senior with 25 years of experience in finance, could continue to work part time as a Finance Manager. Similarly, parents can run consultation blogs or augment their hobbies and continue to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Advocating the same message, Lenovo’s new web-film captures the void that retirement creates in a person’s life, one that can be filled by, as Lenovo puts it, gifting them a future.

Play

Depending on the role technology plays, it can either leave the senior generation behind or it can enable them to lead an ambitious and productive life. This festive season, give this a thought as you spend time with family.

To make one of Lenovo’s laptops a part of the family, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Lenovo by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.