India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, described the country as “an ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously”. While that might hold true metaphorically, there is currently intense contestation over interpretations of Indian history and what aspects of our heritage will be carried forward. Institutional and ideological attacks are challenging the idea of India as a confluence of cultures, traditions and religions.
Over the last few years, Aaran has been exploring this series to focus on the syncretism that is so distinctive and unique to the subcontinent, especially through the architecture of monuments and places of worship that attract people from a range of backgrounds. The camera not only gives him the chance to document a changing society but also the opportunity to explore the complicated questions around what is being valued, what is being carried forward, and what is new that is emerging through crises of personal and national identities.
40% of the proceeds from the sale of prints from this series will go to Karwan-e-Mohabbat (Caravan of Love), a people’s campaign devoted to the universal values of the constitution, of solidarity, equality, freedom, justice and compassion. The organisation supports survivors of hate crimes and injustice with legal, social and livelihood help.