Tiiu Kirsipuu's exhibition: My Varanasi. Colours
Varanasi (Benares), the holiest town of Hindus, which is situated in North-India right on the bank of Mother Ganges, is very special even in the context of India. The town is over 2000 years old. It is the religious centre of India visited by over a million of Hindu pilgrims and tourists every year. The most peculiar and renowned part is ghats – staircases situated ca 5 km longshore the Ganges, where all the old town streets lead to. Every ghat is a little unit of its own and with its own name in the big system of staircases edging the river. In the morning, evening and often at night, too, religious Hindu ceremonies of all kinds take place there. People pray to innumerable Gods, worship them and sanctify themselves with the holy water which is believed to purify the soul and body. About on two of hundred ghats pyres burn round the clock, where the dead persons are burnt whose ashes are scattered into the river later. Hindus believe that when they die in Varnasi, they are saved from the endless chain of rebirths and do not have to reincarnate in this world any more.
These who have come from the West must keep their heads cool to resist all those smells, dirtiness, intensity and the traffic noise. At the same time it is absolutely special and fascinating – being there you can sometimes feel that the time has really stopped.
Varanasi is very colourful and its colour palette is very wide and variegated – you see it at every step and everywhere in Varnasi. It would be unthinkable to match such colours in Europe, but in its context they do not seem strange, they feel natural and are just in place. A special bright world of colours can be seen on the facades of houses, in the range of colours of Gods-deities and naturally in women’s clothes.
I stayed in Varnasi for a month in October 2013 as an artist in residency. A small choice of the photos taken there has been presented at this exhibition.
Associate professor of sculpture in the Baltic Film, Media, Fine Arts and Communications School of the University of Tallinn