Photojournalist and Artist Lisa DuBois is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From the project ‘Holy Water – Baptized by Firehose’. To see Lisa’s body of work, click on any image.
Every summer a deeply rooted spiritual tradition occurs on a quiet street in Harlem known as the Fire Hose Baptism. People arrive dressed in white and wait patiently to be baptized by firehose. At first it is noticeably quiet until the legendary United House of prayer brass band starts tuning up. Two or three brass bands invigorates the crowds with uplifting gospel music and the mood quickly changes from serious to joyful.
A preacher arrives and begins his stirring sermon. At the end of the sermon, the water is released from the fire hose and excitement takes over the crowd. The water, falls like rain on an assemblage of people who are passionate in their belief that they are being forgiven for their sins, purified and possibly healed at that moment. A Euphoric look can be seen on the newly baptized as the holy water mixed with tears stream down their faces. Others fall into a trance-like state and appear to be unaware of their surroundings. It is the intersection between water immersion and trance I find interesting to photograph.
Baptisms are among the oldest recorded water rituals created for the purification of one’s soul. Immersion in water feels natural because we are carried in water before we are born. In some cultures being reborn is connected to baptisms. Because of the miraculous nature of water and its incredible life giving properties; we cherish water and use it to symbolize purity. In ancient times, water that sprang up naturally from underground was considered sacred and used for baptisms. Today the fire hose is the modern delivery system which forces the water to rise from underground and emerge as Holy water to sanctify streets and people of Harlem. The Baptized by Firehose series reflect the reactions people have when they connect with the divine through the element of water.
All images and text © Lisa DuBois
By Lisa DuBois
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