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Photography, a meditative endeavour

Updated: May 4, 2021

It has been a popular belief that any form of art brings us closer to Self. Photography is no exception. Here are three ways how photography inadvertently makes us experience spirituality.

Single-minded Focus

When we look through a lens to take a photograph, we automatically focus our mind on the object or the scene we intend to capture. Somewhere in the process of searching for angles, adjusting aperture to bring out depth in a landscape shot, or moving in for a macro close up inside the petals of a flower, shooting a photograph tends to unite our body and mind, drawing out our soul towards achieving perfection. The resultant visual obviously tends to reflect the superlative dedication invested in the deed of framing the perfect shot. The whole exercise therefore almost becomes a spiritual experience.

Better Appreciation and Gratitude

The brain perceives things differently when it shifts from seeing through the familiar naked eye to gazing through the lens. We tend to look at normal things in front of us differently when we look through a camera. Our mind in such a contemplative state gets to appreciate even the smallest and most natural things better and automatically our gratitude for existence itself improves.

Enriching Experiences

A focused mind, a different perception, and the endeavors we go through in pursuit of that best shot deepen and enrich our experiences. Varied and wide experiences lead to better acceptance of the things and people around us. We become more tolerant. Our experiences eventually improve our virtues like gentleness, straightforwardness and self-discipline leading to better realization of ourselves, progressing our spiritual journey.

One of the initial steps in everyone’s spiritual journey is worshipping through offerings. Here’s an interesting capture of some of the popular and unique offerings.

Offbeat Offerings

With India having an ancient and rich heritage of spirituality, there is no dearth for offerings that devotees bring to their favorite deities when they come to their place of worship. Irrespective of their religion, people practice offering something in the way of gratitude along with their prayers. Food has always been a popular offering by devotees to gods. Munch chocolates are offered in Chemmoth Sree Subramanya Swami temple in God’s own country Kerala, different kind of dosas to Vishnu in Madurai’s Azhagar Kovil, liquor to Khabees Baba temple in Uttar Pradesh, wine to Kal Bhairav Nath temple in Madhya Pradesh, betel leaves and vadas to almost all Hanuman temples, milk to serpents and even Chinese food to goddess Kali in Chinatown in Kolkata. Poultry and cattle are other common offerings that people donate.

Elsewhere in Uttar Pradesh clocks and watches are offered to the Brahma Baba temple and toy planes to the Shaheed Baba Nihal Singh Gurudwara in Jalandhar in Punjab. While expectant mothers or newly married couples offer cradles, unmarried girls tie yellow threads around trees in various goddess temple premises. In Vishnu and Murugan temples people offer their own hair as offering. Those suffering from a disease of a particular body part, offer small metal replicas of such parts as offerings. Christianity also practices offerings to churches. The first crop of the season, animals like fowls, goat, ox, fruits, tubers and regional delicacies are all offered to the church as a gesture of thanks giving to the Divine for the protection offered. In Sufism, small orbs of sugar mixed with rose and marigold petals, cloth with gold trimmings, turmeric and vermillion coated strings, incense sticks, coconuts, locks are some of the ritual offerings that are offered.

Click here to view a collection of such offerings, where renowned Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad, like an astute meditator, uses digital manipulation to filter out and add newer meanings and imaginations bringing a different dimension to a lived moment.

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