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   Undertoad  Tuesday Mar 26 04:11 PM

3/26: Last resort

This is from a powerful collection of photographs found here . The subject is a religious shrine in India, called "The last resort" for a reason. From the text:

"About eighty men, women and children, having either exhausted doctors' attempts at curing their illnesses or run out of money in the process, are left roped or chained in the vicinity of the shrine in the hope that the saint will instead relieve them of their respective mental demons. With the woman still unquestionably bearing the brunt of social and family pressures in Indian society, it is not surprising that the majority of these 'resident' pilgrims are, in fact, female. Included in this number are epileptics and victims of deliberate malicious poisonings, young mothers traumatised during pregnancy or childbirth, and beaten wives. No [medical] drugs are administered; instead leaves from the margosa tree, said to have natural healing properties, are crushed into a paste and applied to the crowns of heads. Water drawn from the 'miraculous' village well is also drunk and used to bathe in."

Can you imagine these people with no hope... physically chained and left behind. This is one of the saddest things I have ever heard of. And yet for these people, it's just a way they have worked out to deal with the problems they face: smear a layer of faith over it all, giving it a thin veneer of hope, and the ability to leave without as much guilt.

Photo credit: Dave Smithson.

verbatim  Tuesday Mar 26 04:49 PM


warch  Tuesday Mar 26 07:39 PM

I was traveling this week and I met a guy on the street in Miami. He was obviously living outside and he was folding (very artful and lovely) crickets and flowers out of palm leaves. He was handing them out, he wasn't licensed to sell them he said, but if you wanted you could give him a tip.
Talking to him, Freddie told my friend and I that he used to be a cook at a restaurant nearby, but he couldn't handle it when his girlfriend of 20+ years got cancer and died last year.They had been together since jr high and he couldn't focus anymore. As we were talking, a beer distributor guy walked up, obviously a regular, and traded a cola for palm flower to give to his next stop. Freddie said that he liked collecting the palms and surprising people with gifts. That was a beautiful way to live. He said with a big smile that he trades them for all he needs. Folks care for him; but Freddie is benevolent, not combative.

I wonder about the pictured inmates and whoever is applying crushed leaves to their heads. People are so fragile.

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