I spotted this boy when we were both walking past Hindus who were queuing up to enter the Golden Temple in Varanasi. I was taken aback by his beautiful face and asked to take his photograph. He seemed a little surprised and opened the basket he was carrying to reveal a snake with a few rupees scattered around it, as if to say “Are you sure you want to photograph me and not my snake?” He didn’t have any instrument on him to use for charming so I’m not sure quite how he was entertaining the people that were queuing, but part of me wishes that I could somehow change this boy’s life as it seemed sad that he was having to traipse the streets trying to make a few rupees from a rather nasty looking black snake.
I felt he was a bit embarrassed by the attention so I just took a couple of quick snaps before adding a few more rupees to his snake basket and moving on. But his beauty was enough for me to get a shot that I’m particularly fond of – in fact it reminds me somewhat of a Rembrandt painting. But now each time I look at the photograph it makes me want to find him again and take a more composed shot to really do him justice – I guess natural beauty has that effect on you!
Incidentally the seeds around his neck are known as Sacred Basil, or Rudraksha, which is very sacred to Hinduism as it has mystical and divine properties. ‘Rudra’ and ‘Aksha’ are Sanscript: Rudra is Lord Shiva, and Aksha means teardrop, so the plant is said to come from Lord Shiva’s teardrops. They are used for healing and protection and are known to aid a variety of physical conditions including palpitations, poor concentration and high blood pressure. They also relieve stress and help with emotional issues. So maybe that is why he looks so at peace in spite of everything.