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  Age on Sunday   18 Dec 2016  Keep the faith

Keep the faith

Published : Dec 18, 2016, 12:23 am IST
Updated : Dec 18, 2016, 7:34 am IST

Photographer Nilanjan Ray captures the many faces of faith in black, white and shades of grainy grey.

Various pictures by Nilanjan Roy shot across different cities including MP, West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, that showcase faith as a quaint emotion.
 Various pictures by Nilanjan Roy shot across different cities including MP, West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, that showcase faith as a quaint emotion.

From the ghats of Varanasi to Chhath Puja on the banks of the Ganges, photographer Nilanjan Ray’s works exhibit a varied range of rituals practised across India. For this 58-year-old banker, photography is a passion and in his latest collection titled ‘Faith — A quaint emotion’, he aimed to showcase faith as a double-edged sword.


Spanning across two years, Nilanjan shot varied frames on many of his work travels and decided to do a series on religion. He shares, “Pure faith is the kind of trust that you hold even when your rational mind says you should not. This is a double-edged sword, because at times the ability to hold a pure faith is a blessing, but sometimes it is simply blind faith in disguise.”


From witchcraft in Bihar and black magic in Assam, Nilanjan has managed to tap on the essence of various communities. Sharing a striking visual that left a long-lasting impression on him, he elaborates, “In Bihar, I witnessed a rather strange ritual. A group of people were beating a lady in a temple and later dragged her by the hair to a nearby pond, it was only much later that I was told that they were trying to exorcise the evil spirit that had possessed the lady.”


A religious faith is not a collection of people who share beliefs, he adds. “They are 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 faith filled purpose.”

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Shot in black and white, just like all his pictures in the series, is a story unravelling on the banks of river Ganga in West Bengal. “A day before the Bengali New Year, a group of ladies were crawling in the temple as a custom — they were supposed to jump over babies on their way to the Ganges for a sacred bath. There are a number of grey shades between black and white, each depicting its own version of the story and that’s the beauty of these pictures,” he adds.


The photographer is not a big fan of digital photography and prefers shooting on a film instead.

“I carry two cameras on my shoot, it was only a year ago that I bought my digital camera. Films have a sense of nostalgia associated with them, especially B/W films. I like different shades of greys with grain. I feel it gives life to my photographs,” he signs off.


Tags: varanasi, nilanjan ray, chhath puja, photographer