This series of photographs investigates the pervasive themes of Work and Prayer in India. While travelling, I began photographing the stark contrasts within India that I'd expected to find in a country with a wealth of religions and more languages than I even knew existed on Earth.
I was distracted, however, by what felt like an assault of culture shocks-- hand and head-signal communication cues, aggressive blessings, never-ending sales pitches, bamboozlings, etc. -- and I eventually grouped these experiences into two categories: labor and religion.
I began my trip in restless New Delhi, travelled through Agra, Varanasi, Kolkata, and Chennai, and ended it in the sweltering, slow Pondicherry. Everywhere I went I was sold something, blessed by someone, and surrounded by constantly working and praying Indians-- singing prayers through the streets at 5 a.m., rolling a cart down the dirt roads late at night making last sales, selling flowers to be released into the Ganges, and not-so-sneakily rushing to hide illegitimate markets until authorities had passed.
While the interactions remained the same, I was shocked by the gap in lifestyle between the smaller, grittier cities and the more manicured, wealthier cities. Walking through the neighborhood streets south of New Delhi, I repeatedly stepped in feces, could rarely tell the difference between the dirt roads and carcass-laden trash heaps, and would clear my nose of black snot at the end of each day; but when I stayed in a wealthy Chennai family’s home for a wedding, I was able to Facebook, use a western toilet, distinguish roads from sidewalks and trash heaps, and step foot in a sanitary western-inspired mall full of personal shoppers.
These photos are the final product of a first-time visitor of India who experienced the grit of a budget-traveller as well as the privilege of a wealthy, westernized Indian family, and came away with thoughts and images surrounding Work & Pray.
Manual Labor Naga Baba Religious Swim Grocer Temple Visit Temple Maintenance Night Ceremony Lord Hanuman Tailor Shiva Prayer Marigolds Shivratri Night Rounds Cermony Cleanse Sunrise Prayer Young Priests Dung Cakes Lunch Break Shivratri Prayer Line Cochin Fishermen Cotton Candy Barber Sunrise Catch Riverbank Maintenance Corn on the Cob