The Puja Ceremony : The Picture Show Priests in India perform the puja, a Hindu honor ceremony. Incense, flowers and candles are used to pay gratitude to Shiva and the River Ganges.
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The Puja Ceremony

On NPR’s journey along the Grand Trunk Road, photojournalist Kainaz Amaria encountered a group of seven young Hindu priests preparing for an evening ritual.

During the day they study, but every night they conduct a puja ceremony, presenting flowers, incense and food to an image or idol representing the divine spirit. Hundreds flock to the bank of the Ganges River to witness and participate in the ceremony.

“If we bathe there, the body is cleansed, but the heart is also cleansed,” priest Vikash Vastoda told NPR correspondent Philip Reeves about the ritual.

Vastoda, originally from Nepal, has been in Varanasi two years. He came to study music and to better himself so he could support his family.

His mother sent him to India, he says, with the words, “Please, son, do something because your father is no help.”

And so every day, he pushes forward, he says, attempting to lead a pure and just life, for his mother and the community.