By OUR STAFF REPORTER
Rishikesh, 18 Jan: The first major event at the Parmarth Niketan camp at the Mahakumbh in Prayagraj has been the Kumbh Photography Festival, in which nearly two hundred photographers from around the world were hosted by YUVA Foundation, Parmarth Niketan, and Indian Institute of Photography (IIP) from 13 to 16 January.
The event began with the blessing of Swami Chidanand Saraswati and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary-General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, and President, Divine Shakti Foundation. They urged the participants to “Photograph with a Purpose” and highlight the “Mela with a Message”.
Swami Chidanand shared that, typically, a camera lens is pointed outward, but the Kumbh should inspire them to point the camera inward also. “Take your own photo,” he emphasised. “Take your own inner photo. See the truth of yourself.” He reminded them that “Art is great, but a heart is even greater. Today we need art with a heart, art that uplifts and inspires, art that heals rather than hurts. Shift the lens and it will shift your life and the lives of so many.”
Sadhvi Bhagawati emphasized that the camera was just a tool, an instrument. How to use it to impact the world was up to the photographer. “Just as one can use a microphone to spread joy,
love, unity and peace, or to spread hatred and violence, so one can use a camera to photograph images that are sensational, scandalous and negative just to get a lot of hits, views and shares or one can photograph images that are uplifting, inspiring and unifying. The choice is yours of what you want to do with your tool.”
More than 1000 other photographers were connected online and given #KumbhPhotographyFest Tshirts/Kits to submit their photo entries of the Kumbh.
All these veteran and new photographers were given four main themes to click – Sadhus at Kumbh, Prayag City during Kumbh, Devotees at Kumbh, and Snan at Kumbh. The Sadhvi added a fifth to them of the “Form of Faith,” encouraging them to take pictures that fill the viewer with the experience of faith.
On the final day, 200-300 best photos from all categories will be framed and displayed in a curated photo gallery installed at the Kumbh site. The gallery will be open and the photos on display throughout the Kumbh.
From 14 to 24 January, Ganga Action Parivar & Global Interfaith WASH Alliance with Parmarth Niketan are hosting an eco-friendly, environmentally focused camp in the Kumbh Mela at Prayag Raj, Uttar Pradesh at the sacred sangam (confluence) of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers.
The camp has daily divine activities as well numerous inspiring, large-scale events to uplift and empower all, and to focus everyone on a theme of Culture, Nature and Future.
By OUR STAFF REPORTER