Filming Kumba Mela

“Varnrsi, the city that belongs to those with psalms written into the sound of the soul, and whispers of footsteps.”

I’ve been filming and traveling through India for two and half months, with a anticipation for it to end in Varnarsi, not on the side of urgency to return home, but the edginess and emptiness a documentary filmmaker gets when, he/she loses site of the path blind-sided by expectations. I had developed a hard -pain in my belly about going to Maha Kumba Mela, the largest spiritual festival in the world, but also eagerly awaiting the unexpected to approach me with mystery and verve.

I set off to Kumba Mela for one of the holiest bathing days. Driving from Varnarsi to Kumba Mela, Allabad and trying to capture the movement of energy with my camera put me up against my own sense of integrity and questioning mind- what do I not film (when in India everything is amazing to capture) but at the same time allow the ever ending of impressions that pass by my eyes merge into invisible thought forms to be later translated for the film we are producing on the ancient practices of Mother Worship?

Documentary filmmaking is an art form of the unexpected and a spiritual practice of standing afar from yourself and merging into the essence of truth and then allowing that to stream through the aperture of your camera. India is one of those places that bridges the old world and a new modern world-and Kumba Mela stretches this truth beyond the imagination. For miles pilgrims walk on the earth, towards the holy mother ganga, separated from the demands of a modern-day-consumeristic society that needs the comforts of finite things; these pilgrims walk with the puriest intentions of the infinite– the unseen mysteries which come in the form of a river they call-Mother Ganga.
I kept my camera close by to capture this movement of hundreds, if not millions of people walking into the camp sites of the Kumba Mela. It wasn’t what I saw that I was trying to capture but what I felt and this is where the trust comes in as a documentary filmmaker- where the filmmaker and the camera become teacher and student, and the light passing through the aperature is a spirit giving a Voice to the Sacred Land, the people, reflections…… The student was me; the teacher was the pilgrims. They knew within a circle of innocence; that taking wasn’t what she asked of us: we must give back and that’s through prayer.

The impressions of India stand alone- the simplicities of these pilgrims has not yet been destroyed by the infringing modern ways of consumerism. Their pure innocence and connection to the sacred are roots, that may not only save them, but the world. I was told by many people that the Mother Ganga with so polluted with toxins, that even the village people that traveled thousands of miles by train, to swim in this river could not understand-WHY-? How? Who? The hardness in my stomach was Truth. I was apart of this pollution, not only here in India, but across the world, and my camera was the tool to change this, to tell these stories, to educate myself, and dive into my own innocence and vulnerability that edge up against life, in moments that you least expect them.

Camera still by side, teacher and student documenting the pure and impure-inorder to carve a middle way………more to come.

Roll, Record, and make more films.