Tuesday, 28 February 2006

Jains anoint Bahubali statue

Fed up with your faith? Bored with barnies over female clergy and gay bishops? Too soft-hearted to sacrifice goats to Kali? Frustrated by bans on family planning? Embarrassed by fundamentalists running amok? Annoyed that people think your religion makes you rich? Had it with reincarnation? Too hot under your turban? Then join the jolly Jains.
You must be vegan and abjure violence to any creature, though nuns may swat flies using peacock feathers. Monks can worship in the nude. The down side is they can't catch a bus; they must walk everywhere. You can purify your soul and escape reincarnation by participating in the Jain anointing festival, which takes place every 12 years and looks fun, judging by the mess and smiling faces, a sort of holy action painting.
Award-winning photographer Karoki Lewis went to Shravanabelagola, Karnataka, southern India to photograph the 2006 festival, which celebrates the life of Bahubali. Pilgrims came from the UK and USA to help anoint the 59 foot statue with rice flour, turmeric, spice paste, milk, holy water and other stuff.
Click the title to view Karoki's photos; then reflect. Isn't it refreshing to see people enjoying their religion, instead of being oppressed by it?


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