A Photo-Ethnographic Study, Enjoy the Paintings, North India, Uttar pradesh
Comments 68

The Last Journey to Ganga and Scenes from my Ancestral Village : A Photographic Essay

Visiting Grand Parents used to be the only time when the Joy of having many umbrellas multiplied the possibilities of games, laughter and Humour.

But one day without any knock, or warning grandmother died an exceptionally unusual death. All those years the perception that I carried of association, I could never feel it again towards my birth home, my birth courtyard, after grandmother was gone. No sense of belonging. My village had started to look congested. May be that was why parents must have left it. In 1982.


On the mud terrace of our ancestral home, fragrance of cow-dung cakes still brings to my mind the nostalgia of my grandmother cleaning the courtyard every morning. Even before the sun would rise; while telling me with love to keep sleeping. Upla* are still used for cooking and cleaning. And just last week were also used for lighting the pyre of my uncle. Father’s eldest brother.

Death of a family pillar changes a lot of dimension. For one It brings overwhelming, repulsive, abominable silence in homes. I felt this once I arrived in that room again, after all those years. I don’t remember the last time I was inside it. So much had changed, but also it was all the same. The sound of an elderly man taking tea from the saucer instead of the cup. Outside an abandoned mobile tower provided new patterns of keeping Uplas emerge. Sound making squirrels arrived, cows mooed, chirping birds and the circulating sound of one sewing machine handle, made heat bearable. One Charpoy* under neem tree pulled all the children to it. The tree absorbing everything and made sitting under pleasant.

I sat watching comers and goers. Nearby a hand scooping up the water from a well became its first vessel. And the fingers of both hands intertwined becoming its first basket. Elderly commanding the kids, as each command was leaving an undesirable sting in children who were forced to carry that out. Where there was nothing before, within moments a few people came together, standing just like that. Without any planning, any announcement. There was perfect mystery, image worthy symmetry, without any appeal, expectation or motif, without any words spoken they were there. Transmitting. And remarkably all sat where they stood, together. Looking, away from the body, asking what was already established and then again becoming quiet after knowing the known.

Evening dawned. A new born baby cried out of hunger. The crowd stood marvellously together. No body had eaten anything. Anything since last night. And will not eat for the next three days in that same house where the death has happened. But children were found eating biscuits which they had bought from the only shop in the village. They asked anyone whom they caught seeing them, to eat. But It was time to start the last walk. People were asked to see the face for the last time. The cries of women filled the sky again. How could an image collect cries? Or at least I shall try.

Sharing the final walk towards mother Ganga.

Death Ritual
Coming to the Ganga Ghat in Uttar Pradesh
mourning
Burning the Pyre
Going into the Ganga
Wandering in the dark
Hiding and Waiting
Mourning
Going in the river
Myself lit by the fire from the Pyre
The journey of the soul.


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Thank you.

If today is the first time you have arrived on The Road to Nara, you are heartily welcome ~ Namaste


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I will take this opportunity to introduce you to About me and importantly;

As a co-traveller, taking you through Ten Lessons I learnt from several years on the roadbefore you coarse on youown Road to Nara.


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You might also like to know about My Little SchoolIf you wish to come over for a visit, to share your stories or to share one of your magic tricks with children, you are heartily welcome here

If you appreciate what you read on the blog, you can support it by contributing towards my travels. it will let me keep bringing you all the secrets, stories and landscapes of nature and life to you. If you live in India You can do it here. And If you are living outside India, please drop me a mail.

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If you have anything to share, or feel like saying a hello, please feel free to write to me at nara@road-to-nara.com

To visit other long-term photographic works, you can visit here.


To follow my walks through the rural Indian Subcontinent, find me at 
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Hi, I am Narayan Kaudinya. And i welcome you on this journey, the Road to Nara ! I am an Ethnographer and a practicing Indologist. I did my masters in History and further learnt Sanskrit, Yoga and Nerve-therapy. At 24, pushing most academic sounding, office sitting works away, i felt compelled to know and understand the world and my country, Bharat/India. I travelled, and as it happened i took up teaching in Kashmir and further up in the remote villages of Baltistan in the foothills of Karakoram Ranges. For around three years and many states later there came a time when i felt that it was only while teaching i learnt how to laugh, to see, feel, breathe, love and cry -with children, and mostly resource-less parents in the harshest-freezing border conditions. I write, and work as a documentary photographer and Filmmaker, with numerous published, exhibited and some awarded stories. In my travels and life i have let nature lead me, the divine mother, and as a Yogin, my resolve here is to share my experiences and thoughts as honestly, and through them to blossom in everyone the power and possibility in pursuing your breath, that you seek your true nature with courage and curiosity. Here, on this road i will share my spirit, my love for nature, the elements of life that are us. And in doing so, i'll be happy to see you along.

68 Comments

  1. The unexpected and sudden death in the family is always heartrending and Narayan’s description of his journey up north to his ancestral village, and his feelings are not only interesting to readers learning the rituals of rural India, but profundly moving

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The sudden and unexpected death in the family is always heartrending, and Narayan’s description of the journey up north to his ancestral village for the funeral of his beloved uncle, the elder brother of his father, and the rituals still observed there are important as a documentary of the changing world in rural India. It is also important from the universal point of view as it reminds us that we are mortal, and one day it will be our turn. John Donne wrote this in the most eloquent way by saying, ” Never ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
    We must offer our condolences to Narayan and his family, and hope that his next essay will reflect happier times and feelings.
    Thank you, Narayan, for the photographs that affect us all, and reflect the deep sadness that we feel too.

    Joanna x
    Please, Narayan, delete the unfinished comment and error on my laptop.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes Dearest Joanna, Uncle played around for 76 years and then one day the game was over. Just like that. We all have to go to may be come back in some other form again.

      As you could feel, last week was bit tough and I felt giving, rather sharing this time here as a tribute. And as a memory. Thank you Joanna.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your tribute to your uncle has to be included in your future book on the rituals and culture of rural India, your words read and re-read all over the world will immortalize him, a wonderful tribute indeed, Dearest Narayan.

        Joanna x

        Like

  3. My condolences Narayan. A sad time for you and your family. Going back to a place where once you were happy can be very emotional, especially when it is for another funeral. I think we never truly lose those we love as they are forever in our hearts.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Caro, thank you for your words. Last week had been emotional but you are completely at that point where wisdom rises- we truly never lose the ones who stay in our hearts.

      Thanks for this. Narayan x

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mallee, yes last week had been little hard but as you said and truly with grandmother- good memories will outweigh the loss. Thank you for sharing this here along.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Toya says

    Peace to the departed soul and souls who are left behind
    🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

    Liked by 2 people

    • My dearest Toya, welcome here. I was only thinking of asking you your mail so that I could invite you. Thank you for coming and coming along. And thanks for your wishes.

      Narayan x

      Liked by 1 person

    • Cindy, thank you for writing so warmly. And appreciate as much for seeing images through your eyes, which are just perfect to say that word ‘ethereal’. Made me happy.

      Thanks again Cindy.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is purest poetry!

    I’d like to quote you, from the words “Where there was nothing before,” to “knowing the known,” on my site, with credit, of course. I think the photograph of you by firelight might make a wonderful featured image for that post ~ which I would also mention. If I have your permission, I’ll do it and send you back the link.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m very sorry, Nara. Your lovely post and homage, your haunting photos. made me think of my own home, the human ties long gone, the only possible return? Time travel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Martha, appreciate very much your writing to me at this time. For acknowledging images that came close to emotions contributing to her passage. Time travel, may be if ones intensity is highly motivated in meeting the other, dreams are one medium of return. Thanks again martha.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yernasia Quorelios says

    💜 SHE!!! Taught YOU!!! by Example; so Grieve Then Apply YOUR!!! Learned Lessons

    …💛💚💙…

    Like

      • Yernasia Quorelios says

        💜 SOMB (Rhymes with WOMB) is Soul, Observer, Mind, Body; the Body may Be Gone yet The Rest Remains in Genes and Memory in Particular

        …💛💚💙…

        Like

  8. Yernasia Quorelios says

    💜 An Open Mind is “Homage” EveryOne; it’s Crystal 🔮 Clear Clarity 🔮 that NOT!!! EveryBody Understands This Simple yet Complex Truth and Just Get Raging instead of saying I Agree-To-Disagree 😤 😒 🙄 😑 🙃 😐 😤 🤗

    …💛💚💙…

    Like

      • Yernasia Quorelios says

        💜 YOU!!! ARE Most Welcome 🙏🏿 🤗 ☺️ 😊 🙌 😀 🙏🏿

        …💛💚💙…

        Like

  9. Nara,
    What a gift and tribute to your grandma and all that knew her. Such a blessing with all of your beautiful pictures and yours burning brightly with her love for you. Love the one in the courtyard of you as a young boy.
    With love as always,
    💖
    Cindy

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Michael Graeme says

    First of all, my condolences, Narayan, and what a fine send-off. This was very sad, but also beautiful. At times, it can be a shock when we return to a place we knew intimately in our childhood. We imagine it as being the same throughout our long absence into adulthood, as if we could return any time and all would be as it was, that we would be as we were. To see the changes when we return – yes, for funerals and weddings – it is sometimes an unwelcome reminder that all things move on, that we too move on, though we resist and wish for the security we once felt among those we loved, and who may no longer be with us.

    Best wishes.

    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael, thank you for writing. Yes her passing away was bitter sweet. Too old but strange way of leaving, seriously, I didn’t mention it for various reasons but yes, coming back home after such a long time presents some quizzical queries. Have you watched ‘Cinema Paradiso’?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael Graeme says

        Ah! Cinema Paradiso. You’ve reminded me, Narayan. I have yet to see it, but it’s on my list.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. KK says

    So sorry to know about your personal loss, Narayan ji. May God give enough strength to you and your family to bear this irreparable loss. The details and pictures reminded me of my father’s demise and I had performed the last rituals at the banks of river Ganga. This is the life. Thank you, Narayan ji.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Sometimes tragic situation comes to our life and we have no option but to face it.. very emotional write up.

    Like

  13. my sincere condolences, dear friend. the pictures are awesome, and haunting too. keep the beautiful write-ups coming!

    Like

  14. My sincere condolences, Narayan.
    The biggest truth of life and we all have to face it though we hardly ever think of the impermanence.

    Like

    • Neel, yes I just wanted to pay my respects and remember this day and time through this essay.

      Yes even though we learn in our culture that “sab anitya hai”. But it is as hard as anything to truly know it. Thank you Neel for coming along on this journey here.

      Like

  15. Thank you for inviting us to walk with you and your family to the Ganga. Sympathies with you all and blessings on your continued adventures.

    Like

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