Stephen Dupont

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Pasupati Burning Ghats
Pasupati Burning Ghats
Pasupati Burning Ghats
Pasupati Burning Ghats
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Pasupati Burning Ghats
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Pasupati temple and bathing ghats, Kathmandu, Nepal.

A body being prepared for washing and blessings along the ghats at Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Patients at the Briddhashram Home for the Dying, Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Sisters of Mercy walking through the Briddashram home for the dying at Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Funeral mourners attend the washing and blessing ceremony of the body before cremation, Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

A body being prepared for washing and blessings along the ghats at Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Funeral mourners at a cremation, Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

A ritual of brothers to commeroate the death of their father, Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Relatives and loved ones watching over patients at the Pasuapti hospital for those waiting to die, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Funeral mourners attend the washing and blessing ceremony of the body before cremation, Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Patients eating lunch at the Briddhashram Home for the Dying as a dog hungrily looks on, Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

A cremation worker tends to the burning of a body alongside the Holy ghat of Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

A body being laid for cremation. Relatives perform a ritual ceremony before lighting the pyre and body. Pasupati Ghats, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Inside the Pasupati ghat hospital, a man waits to die. His relatives attend his final hours before death, and only short distance to the ghats for cremation. The hospital is a small building within the Pasupati temple complex and directly overlooks the burning ghats. Run by a single doctor the hospital caters for those people about to die that will then be cremated on the ghats following the death. Kathmandu, Nepal.

The view of the Pasupati ghats from the temple hospital of the people waiting to die. Kathmandu, Nepal.

Funeral mourners at a cremation, Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

A man jumping into the Bagmati River along the Pasupati ghats. He is believed to of died from the fall breaking his neck and his body was found down river the following day, Kathmandu, Nepal.

As part of the Hindu ritual following the death of a father, the sons have their heads shaved. Pasupati ghats, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Pasupati temple and bathing ghats, Kathamndu, Nepal.

A body being cremated along the ghats at Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Patient blessing a Hindu God statue at the Briddhashram Home for the Dying, Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Patients at the Briddhashram home for the elderly and dying, Pasupati, Kathmandu.

A body being prepared for cremation along the ghats at Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

A body being prepared for cremation along the ghats at Pasupati, Kathmandu, Nepal.

A group of men watch over as a cremation takes place at the pasupati ghats, Kathmandu, Nepal.

THE RITUALS OF DEATH

This essay looks inside the traditional Nepalese Hindu rituals and cycle of death at Kathmandu’s Holiest shrine for cremation, Pasupatinath. From the hospital located right alongside the ghats where patients come to die, the washing and blessing rituals for the dead, hair cutting ceremonies and the cremation of the bodies. Pasupati is the second holiest place for Hindu’s to be cremated outside of Varanasi in India. The mourning and burning rituals take place on the ghats lining the Bagmati River that eventually leads into the Ganges River. The cremations are open to the public and as bodies  are cremated there are other Hindu practices taking place throughout the temple complex, with bathings, pujas and pilgrimages. There is an atmosphere of humanity clashing with ancient traditions and the environment. Animals roam freely among the people and wood is still used for the body cremations causing plumes of toxic smoke to constantly hover around the temples and its surroundings. Due to environmental damages caused by the fires the Nepalese Government is planning to ban the ancient practice of using wood this year and replace the cremation ghats with electric ovens instead.

The Rituals of Death is on exhibition from May 7th at the TAFE Sydney Institute of Photography as part of the Head On Photography Festival.
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STEPHEN DUPONT  is an Australian documentary photographer and film-maker who has produced a remarkable body of visual work; hauntingly beautiful photographs of fragile cultures and marginalized peoples. He captures the human dignity of his subjects with great intimacy and often in some of the world’s most dangerous regions. His images have received international acclaim for their artistic integrity and valuable insight into the people, culture and communities that have existed for hundreds of years, yet are fast disappearing from our world.

Dupont’s work has earned him photography’s most prestigious prizes, including a Robert Capa Gold Medal citation from the Overseas Press Club of America; a Bayeux War Correspondent’s Prize; and first places in the World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, the Australian Walkleys, and Leica/CCP Documentary Award. In 2007 he was the recipient of the W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography for his ongoing project on Afghanistan. In 2010 he received the Gardner Fellowship at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology.

His work has also featured in The New Yorker, Aperture, Newsweek, GQ, French and German GEO, Le Figaro, Liberation, The Sunday Times Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Stern, Time and Vanity Fair.

Dupont has held major exhibitions in London, Paris, New York, Sydney, Canberra, Tokyo, and Shanghai, and at Perpignan’s Visa Pour L’Image, China’s Ping Yao and Holland’s Noorderlicht festivals.

Dupont’s handmade photographic artist books and portfolios are in selected collections of the National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Australian War Memorial, The Library Of Congress in Washington DC, The New York Public Library, Harvard Fogg Museum, Berlin and Munich National Art Libraries, Stanford University, Yale University, Boston Athenaeum, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and Joy of Giving Something Inc.

www.stephendupont.com

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