Saturday, November 10, 2007

Shiva Darsan

"Shiva Darsan" is as much a video poem, as it is an experimental ethnographic documentary on Hinduism, holy men, spirituality and transcendence. Shiva is the Hindu lord of procreation and death. Darsan is sacred perception. Darsan is as much to see, as it is to be seen by that of the worshipper and the deity, holy person or sacred place. It is as much the spiritual that yields to be grasped, known, touched and experienced, as it is the worshipper who is there to receive the divine.

This piece is also a personal reflection on the Shivaratri Festival at Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, the birthday celebration of Shiva at one of his most important pilgrimage sites in Asia and at the most sacred of Nepalese shrines. It is here that Shiva's birthday celebration is most spectacular with tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims from throughout India and Nepal in attendance annually. Prior to entering Pashupatinath Temple, the pilgrims ritually purify themselves in the sacred Bagmati River. On the shores of the river, Brahman priests perform cremation ceremonies with the deceased's family members. While devotees of Shiva completely covered in cremation ash perform puja, or ritualized offerings to their lord.

"Shiva Darsan" is the first tape produced for "In Celebration of Life.... In Celebration of Death...", a series of experimental ethnographic tapes tapes shot during my fourteen month sabbatical abroad in Asia and the Mid-East while in intensive research and videotape production. This series reveals the religious, cultural and philosophical beliefs of indigenous people from various cultures by exploring their rituals, dance, music and daily activities that revolve around life and death. From birth to death, special rites and celebrations mark the important events of one's existence, assuring a symbiosis of body and soul with the divine. This deep relationship between the people and their gods are reaffirmed through daily activity. At times, the person symbolically becomes god, strengthening their own sense of sacredness and self-respect.

Completed: (c) 1994, Barbara Sykes-Dietze, Twelve minutes in length

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