The river rushed briskly at turns and became relatively calm near the wider banks, indifferent to the swelling crowd taking dips in the ghat. A range of unexpected activities, emotions, and body movements emerged when individuals confronted the river in all its turbulence and spiritual density. I started photographing various people at that precise moment when they made their decisive dubkis into the water. An infant baby immediately burst out crying as she was dipped into the bone-chilling water for a purification ceremony by her father, muscle-flexing tourists failingly grappled with the flow and coldness of the water as they dipped themselves, some of them hung on to fixated chains and railings to instantly thrust their heads into the water and come out, while others descended slowly with lips mumbling with prayers. Many Dalit children, on the other hand, curiously dived deep into the river to fish for coins and brass utensils thrown by devotees.
The photographs reflect the conviction, determination, and bodily dispositions that accompanied the people as they took their first dubkis in the river. After a week of photographing the same phenomenon, I began to notice a common bodily habitus that guides the dubkis, as well as remarkable exceptions in an individual’s approach towards the Ganges. It is impossible to locate the thoughts and intentions working at the precise moment of taking the dive; several factors traversing across personal, social, religious, and even physical circumstances dictate the way they dive into the river, are they taking dubkis for the atonement of some guilty past? Are they looking for something underwater that might make their lives better? Or are they just enjoying a refreshing bath with their friends? As an onlooker, one can at most revere those specific performances that arose due to their contact and interactions with the river. These photographs are a testimony to those short-lived moments of communication.