Parao Leprosy Hospital. A photo essay by Darragh Mason Field

July 13, 2013 /Photography News/ Avadhoot Bhagwan Ram Kustha Sewa Ashram is located on the other bank of the Ganges. The temple was founded in 1961 and, while its roots where in Aghori, they had moved on as they said ‘into the modern world’. Part of their development was moving from practices that were seen as abhorrent to working with the lowest of society, the lepers. With this view, Parampujya Aghoreshwar started a service centre at Parao, Varanasi for the lepers in January 1962. This centre adopts the Ayurvedic and Fakiri system of treatment, and prepares most of the medicines. The centre has received acknowledgement from the Guinness book of records for treating more leprosy patients in the world, with 99,045 patients registered with ‘full’ leprosy and 147,503 with ‘partial’ leprosy, all of which have been cured. The patients are treated for free and, after recovery, they are expected to serve in the kitchens to treat the current patients for a period of time in return. No debt, no medical insurance.

Photos & text by Darragh Mason Field. All Rights Reserved

A leprosy patient sits on his hospital bed in the mens ward at the Avadhoot Bhagwan Ram Kustha Sewa Ashram.  Parao, Uttar Pradesh, December 2012.

As leprosy is transmitted by nasal droplets patients often cover there mouth and nose. Parao, Uttar Pradesh, December 2012.

Food is prepared by former sufferers for the patients. Parao, Uttar Pradesh, December 2012.

A lone male patient sits on the floor. Parao, Uttar Pradesh, December 2012.

A female patient walks into the woman's ward. Parao, Uttar Pradesh, December 2012.

A patient with partial leprosy makes his way to the clinic for treatment. Parao, Uttar Pradesh, December 2012.

Acknowledgement from the Guinness book of records for treating more leprosy patients in the world with 99,045 patients registered with ‘full’ leprosy and 147,503 with ‘partial’ leprosy all of which have been cured. Parao, Uttar Pradesh, December 2012.

The staff of the Ashram. To the right is painting of Ganesh and in his hand a human skull giving away the Ashram's Aghori origins. Parao, Uttar Pradesh, December 2012.


Darragh Mason Field was born in Dublin into a family of photographers. Having studied photography at Dublin City University he has travelled in Asia, Europe and America, writing articles and publishing photography. He is drawn to India in particular, making recording of its people, and writing on the reality of life for women in the country, and on the cult of the mystical men – the Sadhus – in India. His first book 'Mazdoor, India at work' was published in March 2013. His next book of Indian photography will be on the Aghori Sadhus.  He is currently based in Bristol, UK and is available for editorial and commercial assignments both domestically and internationally.

See all photo essays published at Photography News


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