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From Barnes & Noble
Stephen P. Huyler, author of Painted Prayers: Women's Art in Village India and Gifts of Earth: Terracottas and Clay Sculptures of India, is no stranger to Hindu art and life. He has worked with internationally renowned museums curating exhibits of Hindu art, and has spent most of the past 28 years traveling in India and studying its rituals. Meeting God is the first book of photographs to bring to Western eyes the many colorful varieties of Hindu daily devotional ritual.
In hundreds of vivid images, we are introduced to the practices that make of everyday life an omnipresent opportunity to both worship and acknowledge the divine ground of all existence and to engage in darshan, or "seeing and being seen by God." The book spans sunrise bathing rituals in the Ganges River to the sunset of life, during which the elderly are revered as repositories of spiritual and practical knowledge. Along the way, Huyler's text explains the rich diversity of Hindu devotional life and faith in prose that is as vivid and illuminating as the photographs themselves.
One of the most startling series of photographs is of a ritual performed by ummarried women seeking divine aid in finding a good husband. On the floor of a temple to the Goddess Mariamman, three women join together to meticulously create a lotus flower with 1,008 symmetrical petals, which are connected by trickling rice flower through the fingers. This process takes approximately six hours, and, once completed, small terracotta lamps are placed in each petal, and then burn for one hour. The haunting image of the darkened temple floor pierced by a thousand-plus small lamps burning in the shape of an extraordinary lotus blossom that will be dismantled as soon as the flames die out is a powerful visual metaphor for the Hindu belief in the impermanence of all material existence.
As Thomas Moore writes in the introduction, "The magical world of India that Stephen Huyler evokes with his wondrous photography and devotee's manner of observation shows that it is still possible to live in the world religiously.... We need nothing less than a renewal of religious imagination, and to that end there is much to be learned from the concrete, touching, simple Hinduism filtered through the brilliant lens of Stephen Huyler."