About the Book. I have always been fascinated by the sheer beauty and diversity in Indian culture. "Sensory overload in a glance" is an apt description of a country that is always in movement. To be able to stand still in the middle of all that movement allows me to really "see" her people and absorb the flow of life from birth to death.
From learning how to make yellow ink from cow urine to watching funeral pyres burn in Varanasi, I realized that I would have to spend a lifetime here to grasp the immense value of her art, stunning architecture, fascinating food and love of all that is beautiful.
India Takes Viewers on a Vivid Tour of the Country. The author/photographer captures the cities, the architecture, the people, the land, and the culture through a variety of color and black and white photographs. She does not simply focus on the "travel-guide", tourist must-see places and spaces. Instead, she takes viewers on a walk throughout the country to see the country as she saw it during her visit.
The Ghats in Varanasi by Debra Schoenberger
The Ganges River (or Ganga) is the most the sacred river in India for Hindus. They want their funeral to take place close to the river so that their ashes can be scattered on the water. Hindus believe that if a deceased ashes are laid in the Ganges at Varanasi, their soul will be escape the cycle of rebirth and be transported to heaven.
Wood is scarce in India, so a family that decides to cremate their loved one in Varanasi must spend a large sum of money buy the wood for the funeral pyre. Because so many in the country are very poor, the city has erected a huge crematorium that can be used for free. However, the people prefer the traditional method and the crematorium is used mostly for criminals etc. The demand for funerals is high here in Varanasi and the pyres burn 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The family stands near the pyre or closeby on a boat. It can take up to six hours and 1,100 - 1,300 lbs of wood for a body to burn completely. Cows, goats, pigs and dogs roam undisturbed in and around the pyres looking to eat flower and garlands that have been discarded.
What surprised me that while respectfully observing the solemn funeral rites performed on the banks of the Ganges, I didn’t have the impression that this was a macabre or depressing occasion.
I had the opportunity to see the cremations both early morning at sunrise and late at night. It is something I will never forget.
Would I recommend India by Debra Schoenberger? I reviewed a PDF copy of this book. While it offered beautiful, striking insights into India through Debra's camera lenses--I am certain that the full, printed book would be a treasure--and one that I will likely buy as well. If you enjoy real images of the people of a country living their daily lives and sharing their culture--this book is a wonderful addition to your photography book collection.
"My dad always carried a camera under the seat of his car and was constantly taking pictures. I think that his example, together with pouring over National Geographic magazines as a child fuelled my curiosity for the world around me.
I am a documentary photographer and street photography is my passion. Some of my images have been chosen by National Geographic as editor's favourites and are on display in the National Geographic museum in Washington, DC. I also have an off-kilter sense of humour so I'm always looking for the unusual.
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