Splendour & Beauty

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“Because God created it the human body can remain nude and uncovered and preserve its splendour and its beauty.”
(Pope John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła, 1920-2005)

When I reached the little akhara (gymnasia) which is lost in the fields near Sakalhida, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, I first saw this pelhwan (Indian wrestler) who was outside with a gada.

A gada is a large round rock fixed to the end of a meter-long bamboo staff which is lifted and swung for exercise.
It may weigh as little as five or as much as fifty to sixty kilograms.
In the Ramayana and Mahabharata the gada is often mentioned as a weapon.
In popular religious art and iconography Hanuman is almost never depicted without one. It is not only the symbol of his strength but also of his countenance. The gada he carries is highly decorated and made of gold. At championship bouts wrestlers are awarded gadas made of silver. The gada is, then, clearly the mark of a wrestler’s prowess. Given the preponderance of phallic symbols in the akhara and the gada’s general shape it is evident that swinging a gada has clear symbolic overtones of sexual potency and virility.Each time the gada is swung it is brought to a balanced position, erect from the wrestler’s waist.The phallic aspect of the gada is also evidenced by its association with snakes. In the Harivamsa Akrura dives into the serpent world where he sees Ananta asleep on top of a mace…
In shape a gada resembles the churning stick used to make butter and buttermilk. A parallel between churning and sexual energy has been drawn above. By swinging the gada one might say that a wrestler is churning his body to increase his store of semen.
(“The Wrestler’s Body: Identity and Ideology in North India” by Joseph S. Alter)

“Vanity is so secure in the heart of man that everyone wants to be admired: even I who write this, and you who read this.”
(Blaise Pascal – French Mathematician, Philosopher and Physicist, 1623-1662)

This image was shot at Scindia Ghat along river Ganga in Varanasi (Benaras).
This young man was striking several poses in order to catch my attention so I could take a few snaps of him but I was pretending not to see him as I am mostly working on natural poses.
It was a Sunday afternoon before sunset and he came there to wash his laundry, his attitude was amazing, full of narcissism, each of his gesture was carrying vanity and pride…
After a while I couldn’t help laughing and I took a few pictures, in fact he knew that I was leaving the akhara nearby where I often take pictures of the pehlwani (wrestlers).

The pillar on the left belongs to the remains of a massive palace which used to stand on Scindhia ghat.
The entire structure has sunk several feet into the earth since its erection and is still gradually and slowly sinking.
Sometimes in the winter when the holy waters of the Ganges come very low it is possible to see it otherwise most of the time it stays underwater.

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