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DONDI- Lying On Belief

 They say, Weave in faith and God will find the thread. Probably this belief is the latent force that works behind the action of the hundreds of people who observe the Hindu ritual of Dondi and perform it. 

Though observed all over West Bengal, Kalighat, considered one of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimages, is the epicenter of this ritual where thousands of people, after taking a dip in the Aadi Ganga, perform it on the auspicious day of Shitala Puja. People, mostly women, wearing new sarees or dresses, start to walk from the side of the water body, lie down on their faces on the road at every couple of steps to reach for the Sitala Temple, with the belief that offering prayer in such a rigorous way will please the Goddess and she will save them from unforeseen diseases and hurdles in life. To make it easier for them, on a hot summer day, gallons of water is poured on the roads and buckets of it over the worshippers. The most unique sight of this day would be when infants are laid on the ways of those who are performing, and they simple walk over the babies or carry them on their backs for the while they are lying on the roads. Some of them go in to a Trance while performing and it is believed that they are possessed by the Goddess herself for the time being. Finally they get themselves purified by fire in front of the Goddess.

While people may debate on this whole affair where Faith is the protagonist, the eyes of a photographer cannot but find perfect frames at every step. With my eye at the viewfinder, I thrived to capture the expressions of these believers who, otherwise ‘Live life to express, not to impress’, but for this day, were definitely trying to impress the Goddess.