Lolark Shashthi

Rajesh Kumar Singh

Lolark Shashthi is a festival dedicated to Surya, the Sun God, celebrated near the Tulsi Ghat in Varanasi. It falls during the Monsoon Season, on the sixth day of the bright half of the month of Bhadrapada usually in September. Thousands of female devotees take a holy dip in the ancient stepwell of Lolark Kund. Steps lead down to the water from three sides, while on the fourth, the kund is elongated and arched, pointing in the direction of the rising sun.

Childless couples from Varanasi and its neighbouring villages perform this religious ritual as a prayer to Lord Lolark Aditya that they may be blessed with a male child. Once the child is born they return to give thanks. Devotees leave their clothes and some fruit or vegetable, from which they abstain thereafter. Some devotees also throw gold jewellery into the pond, which may later be retrieved and distributed among the mahant and Brahmins in order to finance the event and its clean-up afterwards.

As thousands gather the night before to bathe at sunrise, a colourful make-shift bazaar mushrooms around the kund and families cook their simple dinners on open camp fires.

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Rajesh Kumar Singh works in the fields of photography and cinematography, using natural light and the world around him to tell compelling stories and create visual meditations.

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