It can be quite shocking the first time one sees a sadhu — the hair, the ornate or ashen faces, the brightly-colored turbans .

or marigolds, perhaps even the long hair andgenital torture. Some were born sadhus, some seek out a guru, some want to leave the life behind a life of bad choices and worse memories, some just like tourists to drop money in their basket in exchange for a rato tika on their heads. As an aficionado of photography profiles and portraits, I’ve always been drawn to the textures and variety of the sadhu traditions. Most faces tell a story, but none quite like sadhus. A sadhu’s face can tell you whether they’re Ramanandi or Sivite, who they worship and how, even if they’re spiritually alive or dead.

4 mins reading time
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