Photo of a woman outside Varanasi, Benares.
A village on the outskirts of Varanasi
On the outskirts of Varanasi, Kristian Bertel searched for local captions in his pictures. The woman was preparing some food. With her red scarf around the head, she was looking anxiously and directly into his camera. Curious and aware of the presence of the photographer, her eyes were telling more than words. Obligation and motherhood are represented in this picture.
Varanasi is regarded as a holy city by Buddhists and Jains, and is the holiest place in the world in Hinduism. The culture of Varanasi is closely associated with the River Ganges and the river's religious importance. The city has been a cultural and religious centre in North India for several thousand years.
Photo of the Varuna River. The Varuna River is a minor tributary
of the Ganges River. It is named after the god Varuna.
Colour and character
Travel photography is a passion for the photographer, whose latest portraits from the Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh region of India are published in several series online. What he finds interesting is the cultural everyday life. Traditionally, Indian villages follow the panchayat or headman system, which offers equal opportunity to women and men to be a part of and contribute to the village administration. Village life in India is simple. The village folk not only dress simply, but also display simplicity in their meals and work life.
Boy bathing at the banks of the Varuna River.
Activities at the banks of the Varuna River. In Hindu mythology, Varuna continued to be considered the god of all forms of the water element, particularly the oceans.
"My generally philosophy is to strive to be original in my approach to taking pictures. My aim is to tell a story and to make the viewer connect or identity with that particular image. It could be anything, from a young woman with a striking, haunting face, to idle landscapes in remote regions of Rajasthan. I think that there is beauty in the most mundane things - it's reavealing it that's the key. It's all about making my ideas for a photo happen."
A local day worker preparing straps for a rickshaw. Most rickshaw pullers in the Indian capital are migrant labourers who have come to the city in the hope of earning a living for their families in poverty-stricken rural areas.
Rickshaws (or rickshas) are a mode of human-powered transport: a runner draws a two-wheeled cart which seats one or two persons. Rickshaws are commonly made with bamboo. The word rickshaw came from Asia where they were mainly used as means of transportation for the social elite. In recent times the use of rickshaws has been discouraged or outlawed in many countries due to concern for the welfare of rickshaw workers.
Some of the village houses are made of bricks.
India's rural houses
Many of the rural poor work the fields in agriculture and are employed by the few landowners who reside in their villages. Huts are usually constructed from mud blocks, roofs are thatched and the floors are covered with a mud and cow-dung paste that serves as a disinfectant. Houses supplied by the government are constructed with cement blocks or bricks, the floor is cement, and the roof is made of concrete or asbestos. Usually there is only one room in the house, but in some cases a half-wall may be built to separate out the kitchen.
A mother is bathing her child. Villagers begin the day with baths in the makeshift baths and eat only after worship at home and at the village temple. The women in the village are wearing saris. Indian fashion varies from one village to another village, from one city to another city. India's fashion heritage is rich in tradition, vibrant in colors and prepossessing.
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