The Silent Mantra
Description: hardback, 80 pp. (25x19cm)
Jakub Sliwa, The Silent Mantra, Deadpxels, Krakow 2020
Photobook, 52 b&w duotone photographs.
In 1974 Ladakh, which is situated in the Himalayas and belongs to India, opened up its borders to tourists. Its communities, which up to that time had lived happily in harmony with Nature, fully self-sufficient and free from violence, stress, crime, and the other ills of civilisation, started to change irreversibly. The mountain passes, difficult to cross and traversable only for a couple of months in the year, for a time still protected the local people’s traditional way of life, its farming and the enjoyment of local resources that made them self-sufficient and full of concern for Mother Nature, the land, water, and air. The influx of goods and foodstuffs disrupted the extraordinary domestic harmony in which they had lived thanks to their natural isolation from the outside world, but it was not until regular flights connected Leh with Delhi that a genuine avalanche of tourists was brought, slowly but surely transforming the entire region. The tourists came with money and the vision of a better, Western world. To cater for their needs, the Ladakhis started to import more and more goods from Delhi, eventually swamping the local economy. Many of the inhabitants were drastically impoverished. The arrival of violence, crime, prostitution, and alcoholism was only a matter of time. Many Ladakhis completely lost their bearings in the struggle to switch to the new lifestyle. The traditional family spanning several generations, which had been the foundation of local society, ceased to be the cornerstone and source of happiness for its members. Nowadays, young Ladakhis are trying their luck elsewhere, usually beyond their homeland, emigrating in search of a better life, the life which they have seen in the Indian soap operas or in the coloured magazines. Many of the monks are abandoning the path of dharma and opting for an easier life, starting up businesses, setting off into the world.