By Mark McConville
LOOKING remarkably like a character from the academy award-winning 2009 film incredible images from a new book have revealed what could be the last Avatar-like human.
Stunning shots show a guru from the Aghori with a bluish grey colouring to his skin, often created by smearing human cremation ashes from funerals on their bodies.
Other striking pictures show different tribes throughout India including Rabari from Rajasthan, Kshatriyas of Kumaun from Uttrakhand and the Konyak Tribe from Nagaland.
The remarkable photographs form part of Indian photographer Aman Chotani’s project, The Last Avatar, a book documenting Indian tribes and culture before they vanish forever.
“It’s a visual representation of the Gods whom we consider as our ancestors who are actually following the real tradition and customs,” he said.
“All this is to say is that we see cultures die more often than we should, and we recognize how our children, and how our children’s children, will never know the history of who they came from.
“They will never recognise the culture that should’ve been deeply rooted in their souls and seen as a reflection of themselves.
“What happens when a culture vanishes? What happens when traditions, folklore, spirituals, and lifestyle fly by the wayside, never to be seen or heard of again? That’s a question that those tribe of India asks themselves.
“I have always been inspired by the stories of the Indian tribes of India. Their life, their journey and their commitment and dedication towards the life they lead. It’s a tribute to the unspoken community of our country before they are lost forever.”
The Aghori are a small group of ascetic Shiva sadhus. They engage in post-mortem rituals. They often dwell in charnel grounds, smear cremation ashes on their bodies and use bones from human corpses for crafting kapalas and jewellery. Their practices are contradictory to orthodox Hinduism.
Chotani has started a crowdfunding page for his upcoming book to help him complete his photographic journey. He has so far raised £1042 of his target of around £6,000.
“I have already covered the Aghories from Varanasai, Rabari From Rajasthan, Kshatriyas of Kumaun from Uttrakhand and recently shot Konyak Tribe from Nagaland,” he added.
“I stayed a week with them, lived a life like theirs, ate food like theirs and was so inspired by the life they lead. I want to narrate their stories with my pictures so that our future generations can have a glimpse of our different communities just the way they are.
“I need your support to complete the book. You can be a part of my book by donating whichever amount you wish to so that I can keep up my journey in covering the other diminishing traces of our tribes.”
For more information see https://www.ketto.org/thelastavatar