© 2005 CHARNWOOD ARTS and KALA KAHANI. All photos by © Claude Renault. Graphic Design and website by GATAFUNHO, © 2005
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Water and The Sacred
a photographic exhibition by Claude Renault
Amritsar: Golden Prayer
18 Amritsar: Golden Prayer

A Sikh reading his sacred book alongside the tank of the Golden Temple. A minimalist shot, showing the reflection of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, literally, pool of nectar.

This piece of architecture draws on both Hindu and Moslem artistic styles, yet represents a unique co-evolution of the two. During the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), Hari Mandir was richly ornamented with marble sculptures, golden gilding, and large quantities of precious stones. Within the sanctuary, on a jewel-studded platform, lies the Adi Grantha, the sacred scripture of the Sikhs. This scripture is a collection of devotional poems, prayers, and hymns composed by the ten Sikh gurus and various Moslem and Hindu saints. The image was shot the day before the 400th anniversary of when the Holy Book was first taken to its holy site. Beginning early in the morning and lasting until long past sunset, hymns were chanted to the accompaniment of flutes, drums, and stringed instruments.

An underground spring feeds the sacred lake, and throughout the day and night pilgrims immerse themselves in the water, a symbolic cleansing of the soul rather than an actual bathing of the body. Next to the temple complex are enormous pilgrims' dormitories and dining halls where all persons, irrespective of race, religion, or gender, are lodged and fed for free.

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