Year 2020! Probably the toughest year humanity has faced since the World Wars (I wasn’t around to witness that but it should be a pretty hard time). After 4 months of severe lockdown, times when every cell of my body wanted a touch of fresh air and open spaces - I decided to move my workplace to the Gokarna beach. As adventurous as it might sound, this move turned borderline crazy considering the ongoing pandemic and the height of the monsoon season. The town seemed like a ghost town at first with locals staring at me from the windows like I would be the one carrying the virus in my camera bag.
For those who cannot picture the monsoons on a coastal town in India, let me try to put it in words - incessant rains for days, roaring waves clashing with a thunderous sound, the beach is hardly visible at all as if the sea has engulfed it all, tonnes of waste by the sea which it throws back to the humanity (it takes everything back by the end of the season as locals later told me) and a time when getting knee-deep into the water is labeled as ‘dangerous’. To simply call my timing of visiting this place an ‘off-season’ is playing it down considerably. The fact that I witnessed 7 lives lost from drowning during my stay and that too on the same beach is quite telling.
Finally ended up spending 3 months in a room right by the stormy sea with a local family of fishermen and slowly but surely found the way of life on the beach. I made friends for life there, never missed a single sunset in 90+ days, and in between those moments this project was born.
Holy Sea is a photography project dedicated to life on the beach, unnerving monsoon clouds in Coastal India, and of course this small temple town of Gokarna. Gokarna is known as one of the seven important Hindu pilgrimage centers. The pilgrimage is considered complete after taking a dip in the holy water of the sea. This project aims to capture the local life happening against the backdrop of the majestic Arabian Sea as things started returning back to normal.