Yousuf Zafar
Click! Photography Festival
Friday< Oct, 20, 5-8 p.m., free
Durham Art Guild, Durham

This series, Theravada, completed in 2016, reveals the transforming lives of the Burmese people as the heavy hand of government slowly eases. In Myanmar, the prominent religion is Theravada Buddhism, which touches every aspect of life. Many young Burmeseespecially the poorlive as monks or nuns, cloistered from friends and family for a year or more, availing themselves of a free education in monasteries, along with room and board. Temples are found throughout the country, often housing relics in their walls. These temples are open to the public, and Theravada Buddhists can be found practicing freely. The government supports this form of religion. As a Muslim, it was not lost on me that the government has been actively promoting violence and oppression against the Muslim Rohingya minority. My goal was to capture the vibrant practice of Theravada Buddhism as intimately as possible without being a nuisance. This often required spending time in cramped temple corners, half-standing, looking as inconspicuous as possible with a large camera covering my face.

See more of Zafar’s work at the Durham Art Guild in the Click! Photography Festival Oct. 20 through Dec. 9.