Archive for akhara

Feeling Strength

Posted in Pehlwans from Benaras with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2013 by designldg

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“You feel your strength in the experience of pain.”
(Jim Morrison – American singer-songwriter and poet, 1943-1971)

Like many men in Varanasi (Benaras) this pehlwan (Indian wrestler) comes to an akhara every morning at dawn or before sunset in order to perform his daily physical training routine.
For this training they use heavy club-lifting like “gadas”which are a way of testing strength and balance.
The mace is associated to the Indian god of strength, Hanuman, who is almost never depicted without one.

This is a new picture from a series of 16 published in the new issue of Mascular Magazine (from page 136 to page 145 ),
www.mascular.co.uk/Magazine/Issue4.Winter2013/Mascular4
(When opening this magazine be aware that there are a few pictures with “explicit content” there)

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© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved.
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

Pandering Satan

Posted in Pehlwans from Benaras with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2013 by designldg

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“Reveal your feelings to him,
Tenderly …
Then let Satan break him”
(Abu Nuwas (Abū Nuwās al-Ḥasan ibn Hānī al-Ḥakamī) – Classical Arabic poet, 756-814)

This is a picture of Vinod and his cousin Manish shot in the akhara located at Scindia ghat along the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras).
The two young men are pehlwani and they often train there before sunset.
Sometimes they also pose for the pictures of the Red Halo collections.

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© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved.
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

A Physical State

Posted in Pehlwans from Benaras with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2013 by designldg

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“When an idea exclusively occupies the mind, it is transformed into an actual physical or mental state.”
(Swami Vivekananda – Indian Spiritual leader, 1863-1902)

This picture was shot inside the akhara facing the Ganges at Raj Ghat in Varanasi (Benaras) where this pehlwan follows a daily training at dawn.
The reflection in the mirror was providing a backlighting which I always enjoy to work with…

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© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved.
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

Physical Wisdom

Posted in Pehlwans from Benaras with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2013 by designldg

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“Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack.
We give it orders which make no sense.”
(Henry Miller – American Author and Writer, 1891-1980)

An inward moment with a pehlwan who was following his daily training inside the akhara facing the Ganges at Raj Ghat in Varanasi (Benaras).

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© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved.
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

Replenishing Strength

Posted in Pehlwans from Benaras with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2013 by designldg

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“Inward calm cannot be maintained unless physical strength is constantly and intelligently replenished.”
(Buddha – Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, 563-483 B.C.)

A few days ago I went to an akhara early in the morning, it was a little windy like it is during those pre-monsoon days and the light was peculiar.
Somehow it was perfect for taking pictures of pehlwani training…

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© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved.
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

Splendour & Beauty

Posted in Pehlwans & Gurus with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2011 by designldg

© All photographs are copyrighted and all rights reserved.
Please do not use any photographs without permission (even for private use).
The use of any work without consent of the artist is PROHIBITED and will lead automatically to consequences.

“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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Without a Model

Posted in Banarsi (Portraits) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2010 by designldg

“I can’t work without a model.
I won’t say I turn my back on nature ruthlessly in order to turn a study into a picture, arranging the colors, enlarging and simplifying; but in the matter of form I am too afraid of departing from the possible and the true.”
(Vincent van Gogh – Dutch Post-Impressionists Painter, 1853-1890)

I met this young man at the little akhara (gymnasia) located near Jatar ghat along the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras).
He was swinging a gada (mace), it was before sunset.
I asked him if he wanted to model for our new collection, but he said that he was too busy with his job which he couldn’t leave for a few hours.
He is a sari seller in a shop and as it was the wedding season he had too much to do.
He smiled with a kind of shyness as if he didn’t know how handsome he was.