Two Hundred Sacred Sadhus @ the Maha-Kumbh Mela 2010
I wanted this collection of Sadhu Portraits to be like going to the Kumbh Mela Festival itself. When walking around Haridwar, you will see thousands of sadhus in one day, but in the end you'll remember only a handful. It is these few that will make a difference to you when looking deeply into the image you feel attracted to by breathing deeply and clearing your head of all the chatter , then see what thoughts enter your mind. A sadhu's image reaches beyond space and time and will always have a soothing effect.
Most of the women sadhus have been culled for a previous post: See
I met Amarnath Giri twelve years ago when I spent 6 weeks at the Kumbh Mela. He was a tall formidable sadhu and I spent a lot of time at his tent around his campfire where he commanded a lot of respect from the locals who visited him for advice and solace from their worries. I also made many photographs of him and gave them to him for which to keep in his photo-album.
When I returned now 12 years later, HE WAS MISSING and all of the tent city that had formed was now gone with only a few powerful sadhus or Naga Babas remaining. I asked about him and was told that he had died. Later another sadhu I knew from back then told me that he was now disabled and was in fact the old man sitting under the tree over there.
At first I couldn't believe it was him. A mere shawdow of himself and I thought they were pulling my leg and using a substitute to get my extra rupees. He now needed a metal walker in order to get around. I kept wondering if this were truly him and if so where were all his possessions?
Well, I got my answer six weeks later when he eventually got back to where his old campfire was and set up home, which is where I visited him often always wondering if it was really him. Then at my final visit, from a pile of clothes he pulled out the photo album he had all these years and there I was in a number of images that I had given him back in 1998. I finally could confirm that he was the real thing. Yes , I had indeed been here with him alongside the Ganges River in the HOLy CITY of HARIDWAR and perhaps it was his spirit that helped me overcome adversity and ward off disaster over the years.
I was so pleased ...all my images that I had handed out where still prized by their owners and it was a great pleasure to look at them again. Below is a current image of us both together again with his arm around me durning the making of this photograph.
ShapeShifter: An old man remembers visiting Kumbh Mela in his youth:
Actual footage from the 2007 Allahabad Kumbh Mela: