|Photo © Manan Vatsyayana (AFP/Getty)|
This is topical as I shall soon be traveling to Gujarat to lead In Search of the Sufis of Gujarat Photo Expedition™, during which our small group will photograph at various Sufi shrines in the area, and where trances and exorcisms frequently take place.
While I've seen devotees exhibit mild trances especially during qawalli performances at the shrine of Nizzam Uddin in Delhi, I also witnessed extreme displays of religious trances in Varanasi, the quintessential Hindu religious city. I spent a couple of days photographing at the dargah of the Sufi saint Bahadur Shahid, where trances and loss of consciousness by devotees were the norm. Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims mingled and sought blessings from this Muslim saint, and some of them went into intense trances. I got the lead to the venue from a NY Times article.
To see more of these practices, here's an audio slideshow I produced and a stills gallery of my photographs at Bahadur Shahid.