Jain Diksha (I)
Standing on a platform decorated in the shape of a lotus flower, a young Jain woman parades through the streets of Jaisalmer during her Diksha ceremony, a ritual that celebrates and formalises her renunciation of all worldly possessions and duties, including family ties, to become a Sadhvi (nun).
One of the ancient religions of India, Jainism is based around the central tenet of ahimsa, or non- violence towards all forms of life, and the principles of ‘non-absolutism’ and ’non-possessiveness’. Together, these three cardinal principles establish Jainism’s core values.
India’s sixth-largest religion, Jainism is practiced throughout the subcontinent, including in Rajsthan, a state with which it has close historical connections, where a number of important Jain centres are located.
As a Jain Sadhvi, the woman at the centre of this ceremony will relinquish all material attachments and social ties, including those to her family and community, to become a wandering ascetic, only able to accept food from householders (but never to cook it), wearing only unstitched white clothes, and covering all and any distance by walking barefoot, while preaching the Dharma and providing spiritual guidance to the devout.
We photographed this event on Day 4 of our recent Thar Desert Photography Expedition™ 2017.