13 Apr. 2015
I was covering the annual Hindu religious procession to mark the Shiva Gajan festival in Kolkata when I took this picture. As part of the festival, holy men touch the head, face, chest, belly or leg of children with their feet to give blessings. It is quite a unique way to bestow blessings.
It is believed the practice will ensure fulfilment of the parents' wishes. These vary from health to prosperity to betterment of the children and family.
I saw a few women carrying their babies to get blessings from the holy men who were wearing flower garlands.
A couple of the women placed their children on the road to receive blessings. I shot this image showing the toes of a holy man touching the left eyebrow of a crying infant while another child, facing in the opposite direction, quietly watched.
The first infant kept crying for some time but seemed all right after his mother comforted him.
The festival is marked every year in two Indian states, West Bengal and Tripura, a day before the last day of the Bengali calendar in which devotees offer prayers in the hope of winning the gods’ favour and having their wishes granted.