This is what i saw-
There are two popularly held images of India. The first is the rich, exotic India of elephants, bright colors, and beautiful textiles. Then there is the other India, the one of a fast multiplying economy, of highly populated high-rise cities, a booming IT sector, and a constant stream of engineering, software and medicine graduates filtering out into the world. Today, more than ever before, these two faces of India are evolving rapidly- converging in some places and diverging wildly in others.
Despite our secular constitution, the place of religion within Indian society is held high, and is deeply embedded within the ethos of the nation. However, with the arrival of the internet, a globalized society, the birth of the modern Indian woman, and the nuclear family- the practices and structures that formed the core of religious belief, are also changing. On some levels it can be said that there have been deviations from and disintegrations of traditional religious faith in India, but on others, there has been a revival of religion, a return to what is known, definite and familiar in a fast changing world.
I was brought up on the fence between these worlds. Where feminism and innovation reigned supreme over goddesses and ritual worship but Ayurveda and karma held more ground than paracetamol and western moral philosophy. I am one of the millions of my generation that represent this evolution between the India of then and the India of now, and the strange hybrids it has created and nurtured.
As a photographer, I know that I use my lens to learn. In ways that my conversations, interactions and academic experiences are unable to teach me- photography shows me. With time, I hope to tell photographic stories that capture the layered, multifaceted, and interconnected nature of reality itself. However, I knew that in order to do this, I needed to learn how to tell my own story first. I believe that my story, and the story of the new generation that is rising out of India right now, is this one. The story of religion, the story of modern, evolving India, and the story of how these two flaming forces are grappling with and against each other.
Looking back, I don't know if I achieved all that I set out to. I don't know if I was able to capture the entirety of my own struggle, or even the beginnings of the struggle of my generation, let alone the struggle of religion vs. modernity in 21st century India. I think I captured moments, and I began a process. A process that made me feel small, and made India seem infinite, but a process that I want to keep working at, and challenging myself with. To be awfully cliché - this is just the beginning.