Kanwar Yatra : through my lens..

Meerut : Munish captures the kanwar pilgrimage, which is an annual assembly of lakhs of pilgrims from across North India. Kanwar Yatra is an auspicious pilgrimage observed by the devotees of Lord Shiva annually. During the Kanvar Yatra, the devotees carry the ‘Kanvar’ on both their shoulders. This yatra is also called Jal Yatra as in this practice the bearer known as ‘Kanwariyas’ or Kanvadias go the Hindu pilgrimage places like Gangotri and Gaumukh in Uttarakhand and Haridwar to fetch water from the Holy Ganges and then offer the ‘Ganga Jal’ to Shiva temples in their hometowns.

Munish’s  camera captures the Kanwar Yatra’s turn towards gaudy spectacle and its recently acquired raucous and open-air rock concert-quality. Right-wing appropriation has been growing over the years, The trademark saffron t-shirt-and-shorts uniforms of the Kanwariyas assumes an added layer of significance in the light of attempts by Hindutva organisations to claim the pilgrimage as yet another example of the resurgence of Hindu nationalism.

Despite not being particularly religious himself, Munish says he forged his own connections with the irrepressible Kanwariyas, many of them working-class and lower-caste young men reveling in a rare opportunity to be free of their troubles and participate in an event bigger than themselves. “I could view the Yatra dispassionately – sometimes, looking through a camera can help you can put distance between yourself and the event,” he said.

Munish Kumar

Munish is a senior journalist with more than 18 years of experience. Freelance photo journalist with some leading newspapers, magazines, and news websites, has extensively contributing to The Times of India, Delhi Times, Wire, ANI, PTI, Nav Bharat Times & Business Byte and is now associated with Local Post as Editor

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