CREDOS : Faith in frames — V

Vibhuti Patel

What other challenges did you face besides capturing the colour?

Multitudes and congregations. Most of these pictures were shot in crowds, at festivals. You’re constantly being jostled or shoved in India. Just when you think you’ve got the right moment, the right composition, a cow walks past, a scooter goes by, someone pushes you as they got pushed by 20 others. That cover picture was shot on a really busy street. I didn’t even realise this child was in the shot until the picture was developed!

You juxtapose armed Sikhs with pacifist Jains.

It’s one of the many contrasts in India. Sikhism was the martial arm of Hinduism. Taking up arms, protecting against invaders, is inherent in Sikhism. The Nihangs, a subsect of Sikhs, continue to be horsemen. They carry spears and swords symbolic of their faith rather than real soldiering. The Jains believe in nonviolence and wear masks on their mouths so not even bacteria get killed. Their nuns are celibate, their earthly possessions are on their backs, they are bald — their hair is plucked out, not shaved.

You included pictures of Tibetan Buddhists.

Ladakh and Leh are stripped down and bare, so elemental in a desert at 15,000 feet. And yet the monasteries are flashy, more colourful than a discotheque. As with traditional Hindu life, where you’re stripped down but the symbols around you are extravagant, large, colourful — so it is with Buddhism. Will faith in India survive? Belief about life per se among Indians is so integral, so central to existence that it cannot go away. —, concluded