Kashi, City of Coexistence by Shivang Shekhar

Varanasi is a potpourri abundance of life and celebrations. Even if you move around the ghats of Banaras you would find people and animals rejoice together. As they say, dogs, elephants, and horses are the animals closest to human feelings.

varanasi animals
A homeless giving shelter to stray dogs, framed by Shivang Shekhar

One photographer, Shivang Shekhar observed this connection and started to build his frames around it. What followed was a series of beautiful pictures we named “Kashi, city of coexistence”.

A dog with a homeless kid
Beautiful portrait by Shivang Shekhar

Let’s dive into his world to understand his art and the purpose behind it.

Hi, can you please introduce yourself?

Shivang Shekher Singh

Based in Varanasi, I, Shivang Shekhar Singh, a professional photographer, a constant learner, and also an alumnus of Banaras Hindu University from where I did my Masters in Travel and Tourism Management. While walking through the exhaustive career pathways, I realized my connection with the camera.

My heart n’ soul lies in the pristine milieu of Banaras.

Shivang Shekhe Singh

Things which I love is to explore new places, and that’s what my trip of life is all about. Since I started taking photographs, I have become more observant and have started paying a lot more attention to the world around me. In my photographs, I try to capture the unadulterated and quintessences of daily life.

If asked, I will describe my photography as honest, sincere & intimate.

As of now, this is all I can put to words but I may add more along the way. So for now, I would like my photographs to do the rest of the talking.

When was the first time you started clicking such pictures of Animals? Also, mention your favorite frame.

I have always been an animal lover and from the very first day I picked up my camera, animals have been a constant subject in my frames. Talking about the favorite frame, I feel the pictures clicked at Manikarnika with dogs in the frame are above all for me. The reason is the mythological connection dogs have with Lord Bhairav (he is a fierce manifestation of Shiva associated with annihilation)

Dogs at Manikarnika

What inspires you to keep clicking such frames?

So, you can see some early morning birds coming to the ghats for a holy dip in the morning, and on their way back home they would feed some dogs and a cow or bull. Again a very common sighting at the ghats, some sages, hermits, and Tantriks seated along with their constant i.e. the dogs. Manikarnika is flourishing home to many such stray dogs and also in Hinduism, it is believed that dogs are the keepers of the burning pyre and a constant of Kaal Bhairon.

And if you move along, you will always have the pleasure to hear some beautiful mythological stories related to many such creatures. Such stories amidst the daily humdrum of life will always inspire a street photographer. That is the reason why Varanasi and often old civilization are considered to be the best for such photography.

Your thoughts on the state of animals in the current world?

Coming back to the harsh reality of life, that we often forget that this place called “Earth” is also home to the massive flora and fauna and not just the super-beings i.e. ‘Human’.

Any message you’d like to give to our readers?

What we all can do even if we don’t want to pet some, you can make the lives of the stray animals a little easier. The leftover foods can always be fed to them or on somedays one can prepare some extra rotis to feed the dogs around our house. One can make a cozy corner with some cartons, straws, rugged clothes and build a place for these stray dogs to sleep during the winter days.

Love them a little, treat them better and they would love you to the moon and back. Co-existence is an essential chapter of our life and this has already been decided by the Supreme being and now what we all need is ‘realization of the reality.’

Follow him on Instagram( Shivang Shekhar Singh) to see more of his work.

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