A Godly Dance at the Taj

I was barefoot like the rest of them.

The day must have been around 95 degrees and as stuffy as can be, but the cool marble seemed to keep me from being drenched in sweat. After a long walk, I had finally made it to the inner core of the Taj Mahal, around the main tomb structure where pilgrims from all over the country had gravitated. The faithful coiled in long lines and snaked their way around the complex, waiting patiently to reflect at the megamausoleum and communing with the god of their choice. How could a billion people be wrong?

When I travel, I actually always enjoy talking to Indians (or whoever) about their religion. Here is a little thing I do… I’m not sure it’s totally ethical since I say the same thing over and over, but I enjoy seeing people’s reaction as a probe a panoply of personalities. Inevitably, when I’m in a taxi or man-powered trike-mobile, there is some sort of deity that is jiggling about on the dashboard or handlebars. It can be anyone from Shiva to Brahma to Vishnu to Krishna to Ganesha and beyond.

So, I always ask, “Who is the god to whom you pay reverence?”

They respond quickly and directly, usually naming one from of the top ten from the pantheon of possibilities.

I respond back, in all seriousness, “Oh! He is a very powerful god!”

To this, they always turn to me and nod gravely.

My guide there was from no from one of the traditional Hindu sects — he was a Jain. The Jain don’t recognize the divine origins of the Vedas (made popular in the US from Oppenheimer’s re-quote after testing the Bomb), nor do they believe in any one supreme deity. They instead revere Tirthankaras who have raised themselves to divine perfection. So anyway, if you ever try out the little trick above, don’t bother with a Jain because they will just give you a funny look and a wobble of inconsequential solitude.

So if any of you get the chance to go, I recommend it.  The people are all nice as can be and very eager to engage in conversation about just about everything.  Or, of you’ve already been, then you know what I mean!

By the way, this comes from my new Lucis Tutorial.

A Godly Dance at the Taj

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  • http://www.crapbyzak.blogspot.com Zak Shelhamer

    Great composition it really portrays the scene,

  • http://www.catescott.com Cate

    What a nice scroll down surprise this was. I also appreciate the descriptions you provide – back stories. Good stuff (as usual).

  • http://www.moorestock.com Nick Moore

    Awesome! The clothing on the people is very detailed.

  • Jacques (fotofreq on flickr)

    This one rocks! Love the composition in this one. The elements have my eyes dancing around all over trying to experience absolutely every texture, shape and color! Sweet processing with Lucis.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-Ahles/610098261 Patrick Ahles

    Now there is something you don’t see in my hometown ;)

    Great shot, excellent treatment!

  • Chris

    What a great pic as always. I hope you and all your viewers would be interested to see my young photoblog http://outlivethesun.blogspot.com/ Thanks!

  • http://pensivephotographs.blogspot.com smiles4angels

    i love your composition. the colors makes me feel like i’m there myself.

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Stuck In Customs

    Thanks everyone !

    Chris, thank you for putting a link to your art — I have no prob with that sort of thing :) Nice lizard shot :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gail-Moshier/513775196 Gail Moshier

    Another great photo!!!!

    love how you captured the pilgrams!! Your temporarily one armed fan, Gail

  • Kumar Appaiah

    Just wanted to let you know that Jainism is considered a separate religion and not a sect of Hinduism. But all other things you said are spot on, according to my (limited) knowledge, at least.

    Great photo!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmartin78/ Dale Martin

    Great Shot, and great story to go along with the photos. What lens did you use for that photo?

    Well, since chris did it with Trey’s blessing. I couldn’t post a link in here so just click on my name to see my flickr collection. I would love to have some critiques from Trey, and any one else that would like to comment.

  • DEE

    Scrolling down was a colorful experience. Also appreciated the story.

  • http://www.mdsimages.blogspot.com Michael S.

    Very cool story and man, this ones a beaut!

  • http://voidmemory.net/ Hector Garza

    The people, the palace, the way you made the marble look… stunning!

    As to which God do I pray? I like to think myself as a mixture of Catholic and Buddhist. I pray to the Catholic God, but most of the things I do follow the Buddhist path (that doesn’t differ too much from the original teachings of Catholicism).

    Great work as always Trey.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Trey-Ratcliff/502475833 Trey Ratcliff

    hehe thanks…

    Dale – yes links are fine – no worries. I don’t have as much time to critique as I wish — I am sorry about that.

    This was shot with a Sigma 10-20mm

    And thanks everyone – glad you dig it :)

  • casusan

    Absolutely wonderful shot and story – so colorful!!

  • beena

    have seen the taj several times but somehow this pic made me fall in love with it all over again..india is a complex country where people of various religions cultures languages colours co exist..not easy to learn everything due to the complexity but i m amazed at the effort u seem to have made..and i like the tinge of sarcastic humour..glad u apprecite my country for its beauty and for having taken the drawbacks with a smile.

  • http://lightningpaul.shutterchance.com LightningPaul

    Soooo much color and depth but still looking very real. Fantastic capture!

  • http://www.anvilimage.com joe

    What was the processing on this? Was it a single frame psuedo-HDR or was it a Lucisart processed image. Looks great!

  • http://www.becomingsarah.com Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com

    Beautiful colors! I love how many pictures of places of worship there are on this website. Those are always the most awe-inspiring, I don’t know why.

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Stuck In Customs

    beena – thank you – glad you like those little bits in there :)

    Joe – this was LucisArt – no HDR

    Sarah – Thank you!

  • http://fotofriend.net/ Dorin Cucicov

    nice, it really looks like an illustration

  • http://www.stevenson-photography.com Darren

    Trey – I am a Phoenix commercial photographer in Arizona and have played a bit with HDR and Tonemapped images and you have absolutely killed it on this one. Great work – you are a constant source of inspiration. This looks so dimensional I feel like I can step right into the image.

  • http://www.dreaminginpixels.com aRi

    Another excellent shot! You dont fail to awe me….
    As far as i know, Taj Mahal is not a religious entity or a place of worship. It is a monument built by the 17th century Mogul emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife who lies buried under the Taj. It is simply a place of attraction…

    Take care

  • http://www.stuckincustoms.com Stuck In Customs

    Thank you all – I appreciate it – and thanks for the info :)

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