After a year of poor health I have booked a flight to India for early January. It is currently Durga Puja time again and it is 1 year since my visit in 2013. To reflect this return I have developed this new website focusing exclusively on the Ganges and its worship sites.
My initial ambition for this pilgrimage is to photograph the Mela at GangaSagar, an island where the Ganga meets the Indian ocean. The second largest festival in India after the Kumbh Mela, it is estimated that some 200-300 thousand pilgrims will travel to this Mela staying at entirely makeshift camps erected by organisations. The principle bathing day of Makar Sankranti occurs on the 15th January, and pilgrims start arriving several days before this. The journey from Kolkata is by bus, from the Esplanade, takes 3 hours along the Diamond Harbour Road and will take me to Harwood Point, near Kakdwip. Here I cross the 3.5km wide Muriganga River ( the local name for the Hooghly ) by ferry to Kachuberia before taking another bus over the 20 miles length of Sagar Island to the Mela area.
There is a particularly auspicious temple on Sagar Island called Kapil Muni., named after a saint who was born Vishnu incarnate of a father who had entered into a pact with Vishnu. Kapil Muni was falsely accused of stealing King Sagar’s horses and burnt 60,000 of his sons to ashes. He only agreed to restoration of these sons if Parvati, if the form of the goddess Ganga herself, would perform the ritual of mixing their ashes with holy water. The sons all went to heaven but Ganga remained on earth. The date of her descent to earth was January 14th, the date of Makar Sankranti.
I shall return to Kolkata for several days recuperation at the Hotal Broadway before deciding where to head next. I am hoping it will be Patna to look at the ghats there before making my way to Varanasi for a longer stay.
This trip will be something of a lottery as to how long I shall be in India for. Influencing factors will include my health, maintaining interest in this project and how much I shall miss the UK. It is my hope I can make the entire journey of the Ganges on this one trip. We shall see. There is much to do before then, planning something of an itinerary, obtaining a visa and printing out more of the images from last years trip to the Mela and Kolkata Durga Puja with a view to finding future prospective exhibitions. Also I have in mind several more books from both the Mela and Durga Puja, as well as offering a series of limited edition prints on fine art rag paper which people may wish to purchase. I am also attending to my health needs in a variety of ways including practicing yoga with Sadhana Mala. It is a busy time.
The video below provides a wonderful vignette of the journey before me and the map further below provides a sense of where Sagar Island is in relation to Kolkata. You may need to adjust the map slightly by bringing it downwards to see Kolkata.