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Hindus worldwide recently celebrated Diwali, a five-day "festival of lights" that marks the new year and honors the principle of good over evil. One Diwali ritual is honoring Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity. The occasion is also celebrated with fireworks, the sharing of sweets and gifts, and by decorating homes with lights and candles. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji.-- Lloyd Young EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no post on Friday.)( 42 photos total)
A reveler lights a bottle rocket at a park during Diwali, the “festival of lights”, in Kolkata on Nov. 13. The festival marks the victory of good over evil and commemorates the time when Hindu God Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana and returned to his kingdom Ayodhya after 14 years in exile. (Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty Images)

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Today marks the start of the five-day festival of Diwali, celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs around the world. During Diwali, originally a harvest festival, lamps are lit to celebrate the triumph of good over evil, fireworks are set off to drive away evil spirits, and prayers for prosperity are offered to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Collected here are images of this year's festival, as celebrants color their world, give prayers, and wish each other a happy Diwali. [33 photos]

A girl lights earthen lamps in a formation to form the shape of Hindu god Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, on the eve of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh, on November 12, 2012. (Reuters/Ajay Verma)

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Works by Kilian Eng
Title: André Breton & Philippe Soupault

Kilian Eng keeps a large portfolio on Behance and you can also follow along on tumblr.
Read an interview with him on Sci-Fi-O-Rama
Previous feature on this artist
Will 50 Watts

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Indian artists Kandha Panday, right, and Shiva Sharma dressed as Hindu god Rama and his brother Lakshman have paint applied to their faces ahead of a religious procession during the Dussehra festival in Allahabad, India, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011. The Dussehra festival commemorates the victory of Rama over Ravana, an evil ruler who had abducted [...]

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Hindus around the world -- from South Asia to Britain and beyond -- observe many colorful holidays throughout the year. Recent festivals include the Ganesh Chaturthi, celebrating the birth of the elephant-headed deity, and Janamashtami, the birth anniversary of the god Krishna. The range of experiences at these celebrations runs from joyfully loud and spectacular to solemn and contemplative. Each devotee celebrates in a distinct, personal way even while joining the larger community. Hinduism is the world's third-largest religion; the majority of its one billion adherents are concentrated in India, but sizable communities exist all over the globe. I hope you enjoy these vivid, intriguing glimpses of Hindu festivals photographed over the past few months. [39 photos]

Devotees carry an idol of Hindu elephant god Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, into the water from Girgaum Chowpatty beach before immersing it in the waters of the Arabian Sea on the last day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai, on September 11, 2011. Idols are taken through the streets in a procession accompanied by dancing and singing, to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual send-off of his journey towards his abode in "Kailash", while taking away with him the misfortunes of all mankind. (Reuters/Vivek Prakash)

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Manjari Sharma

Darshan

Historically considered a mechanical device to keep record, photography didn’t even start to find a place in galleries until the 20th century. It’s no surprise then that paintings and sculptures of Hindu deities were the dominant way to experience Indian mythology. As an Indian traditionally raised in Mumbai, despite my extensive exposure to Hindu temples, I had never seen a photograph of a deity created from scratch. Most Hindus have seen the use of painting and sculpture but rarely photography taken to the level of exacting measures with respect to showcasing deities, this is how “Darshan” was born. Darshan is a Sanskrit word that means ‘sight,’ ‘view’ or ‘vision’. My project Darshan aims to photographically recreate 9 classical images of gods and goddesses pivotal to mythological stories in Hinduism.

I grew up in a Hindu home to parents who were quite spiritual. I visited countless temples, shrines, and discourses as frequently as my parents wanted. These discourses circled around attempts to unravel the mysteries locked in chapters of mythological enigma and tales of deities, reincarnations and astrology. The roots of Hindu mythology run deep; my own experiences as a child ranged from being fascinated and enlightened to lost and still seeking. I moved from India to the United States in order to pursue an undergraduate study in Fine Art Photography. The frequency with which I visited Hindu temples in what felt like my previous life, gradually got replaced with visits to art galleries, museums and studios, where creativity in all mediums of expression was revered and placed on a pedestal to honor. The museum in my life had now became the temple. As I dug deeper, I saw a lot of parallels between the museum and the temple. As devotees, as students, as artists we frequently visit what we regard our own temples of worship. We take our aspirations and desires to these places. We hope that a piece of art or a symbol of God will speak and send us a message.

This communication inspires us and helps show us our path in life. Sometimes our expectation filled visit disappoints us, but ultimately it’s our faith that keeps us going. While making the first image I discovered that what this project bridges for me, is that be it photography or spirituality, both need practice, faith and devotion.

Aside from stretching the boundaries of photography as a medium, Darshan showcases the ability of a photograph to evoke a spiritual response. This project also highlights and culturally preserves the heritage and artifacts from one of the oldest religions in the world. The nine deities that will be photographed are are Maa Laxmi and Lord Vishnu, Maa Durga and Lord Shiva, Maa Saraswati Lord Brahma, Lord Ganesh, Lord Hanuman and Maa Kali.

The first image created as a proof of concept is Maa Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and fortune. The creation of these photographic icons requires the most laborious and detail oriented study. It involves a 14 person crew that includes set & prop builders, makeup artists, art directors, painters, carpenters, jewelry experts and assistants. September 2011 will be spent in Mumbai creating four more images in the series. I encourage you to look at the link below to view a three minute video showing you the making of my first image.

Related links:

www.manjarisharma.com

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Indian Hindu devotees throughout the world celebrate Janmashtami, which marks the birth of Hindu God Lord Krishna with enormous zeal and enthusiasm. Children and adults dress as the Hindu God Krishna and his consort Radha in bright, elaborate costumes and jewelry. Human pyramids form to break the 'dahi-handi' or curd pot. The large earthenware pot is filled with milk, curds, butter, honey and fruits and is suspended from a height of 20 - 40 feet. Participants come forward to claim this prize by constructing a human pyramid, enabling the uppermost person to reach the pot and claim its contents. -- Paula Nelson (27 photos total)
An Indian schoolboy is dressed as the Hindu God Krishna. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/Associated Press)

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