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A Picture and Its Story

RTR4XERT
Sole to Soul - 15 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.

A similar ritual happens during Chatt Puja, another Hindu festival.
INDIA-RELIGION
RTR4X5DG
April 13, 2015
I was covering the annual Hindu religious procession to mark the Shiva Gajan festival in Kolkata when...
Kolkata, India
A Hindu holy man (not pictured) touches an infant with his foot as part of a ritual to bless him during...
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.
INDIA-RELIGION
RTR4XEKO
April 15, 2015
Hindu holy men touch children with their feet as part of a ritual to bless them as part of a ritual to...
BATANAL, India
Hindu holy men touch children with their feet as part of a ritual to bless them during the Gajan festival...
Hindu holy men touch children with their feet as part of a ritual to bless them as part of a ritual to bless him during the Gajan festival in Kolkata April 13, 2015. Hundreds of faithful devotees offer sacrifices and perform acts of devotion during the festival in the hopes of winning the favour of Hindu god Shiva and ensuring the fulfillment of their wishes, and also to mark the end of the Bengali calendar year. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
INDIA-RELIGION
RTR4X5E2
April 13, 2015
Hindu holy men (not pictured) touch a boy with their feet as part of a ritual to bless him during a religious...
Kolkata, India
Hindu holy men touch a boy with their feet as part of a ritual to bless him during a religious procession...
Hindu holy men (not pictured) touch a boy with their feet as part of a ritual to bless him during a religious procession to mark the Gajan festival in Kolkata April 13, 2015. Devotees offer prayers during the month-long festival in hopes of winning the god's favour and ensuring fulfilment of their wishes, as the festival ends on the last day of the Bengali calendar year on April 14. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

INDIA-RELIGION
RTR4XEKA
April 15, 2015
A girl watches as a Hindu holy man (not pictured) touches a child with his foot as part of a ritual to...
BATANAL, India
A girl watches as a Hindu holy man touches a child with his foot as part of a ritual to bless him during...
A girl watches as a Hindu holy man (not pictured) touches a child with his foot as part of a ritual to bless him during the Gajan festival in Kolkata April 13, 2015. Hundreds of faithful devotees offer sacrifices and perform acts of devotion during the festival in the hopes of winning the favour of Hindu god Shiva and ensuring the fulfillment of their wishes, and also to mark the end of the Bengali calendar year. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
INDIA-RELIGION
RTR4X9XN
April 14, 2015
The arm of a devotee is pierced with nails during the annual Shiva Gajan religious festival in Batanal...
BATANAL, India
The arm of a devotee is pierced with nails during the annual Shiva Gajan religious festival in Batanal...
The arm of a devotee is pierced with nails during the annual Shiva Gajan religious festival in Batanal village, east of Kolkata, April 14, 2015. Hundreds of faithful devotees offer sacrifices and perform acts of devotion during the festival in the hopes of winning the favour of Hindu god Shiva and ensuring the fulfillment of their wishes, and also to mark the end of the Bengali calendar year. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
INDIA-RELIGION
RTR4X9WO
April 14, 2015
A Hindu devotee reacts as he is nailed to a cross during the annual Shiva Gajan religious festival in...
BATANAL, India
A Hindu devotee reacts as he is nailed to a cross during the annual Shiva Gajan religious festival in...
A Hindu devotee reacts as he is nailed to a cross during the annual Shiva Gajan religious festival in Batanal village, east of Kolkata, April 14, 2015. Hundreds of faithful devotees offer sacrifices and perform acts of devotion during the festival in the hopes of winning the favour of Hindu god Shiva and ensuring the fulfillment of their wishes, and also to mark the end of the Bengali calendar year. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
INDIA-RELIGION
RTR4X9XX
April 14, 2015
A Hindu devotee is seen nailed to a cross during the annual Shiva Gajan religious festival in Batanal...
BATANAL, India
A Hindu devotee is seen nailed to a cross during the annual Shiva Gajan religious festival in Batanal...
A Hindu devotee is seen nailed to a cross during the annual Shiva Gajan religious festival in Batanal village, east of Kolkata, April 14, 2015. Hundreds of faithful devotees offer sacrifices and perform acts of devotion during the festival in the hopes of winning the favour of Hindu god Shiva and ensuring the fulfillment of their wishes, and also to mark the end of the Bengali calendar year. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
INDIA-RELIGION
RTR4X5EJ
April 13, 2015
Hindu holy men take a break from a religious procession to mark the Gajan festival in Kolkata April 13,...
Kolkata, India
Hindu holy men take a break from a religious procession to mark the Gajan festival in Kolkata
Hindu holy men take a break from a religious procession to mark the Gajan festival in Kolkata April 13, 2015. Devotees offer prayers during the month-long festival in hopes of winning the god's favour and ensuring fulfilment of their wishes, as the festival ends on the last day of the Bengali calendar year on April 14. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri

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