There was something intriguingly interesting about seeing decapitated idols lying deserted by the road side in middle of no where. May be because of the contrasting reverence, purity, respect and divinity they are otherwise dealt with in the society. So I decided to do a small photo story on one such place I came across on one of my daily explorations.
It shows that an object is an object, dead and still. And through faith we can give whatever meaning we want to it, for as long as we want to. And for the chosen time the object can be the symbolic representation of a supreme power. But it was an will be a dead object.
During one of my many travels into the villages of Rajasthan, I found myself passing by Kharekhadi village. It was full of life and having gone through the length of the village, on my bike, I decided to turn back and walk around to find a group of nomadic sheep herders that I had caught a glimpse of passing by.
I tried to ask around and trace the herders but I couldn’t. And, as I was walking around the dusty narrow lanes hoping to find them, I came across a few kids playing with a make-shift improvised push cart sort of a toy that caught my fascination. The kids referred to the toy as ‘Bangadi’. For me, it was sophistication hidden in simplicity. They had made the Bangadi using a broken old flip flop for the rear wheels, base of a geometry box, a flip flop for the body and a wire for the steering and front wheels.
Where some might find poverty and scarcity, some others might see innvovative/improvising/recycling skills.
What these pictures mean to different people is subjective and may even be debatable. But what is unequivocally clear is the happiness these kids live and experience everyday by making best use of what little they have.
Blanketing the earth in an infinite band of celestial wonders, the heavens celebrated the magic and wonder of flight as earthlings adjusted their kite strings to the echoes of wind and earth. Whilst the streets of Pushkar were deserted and seemed to have come to a standstill; the young and old alike gathered on rooftops to celebrate the eternal transition of the sun from one zodiac sign into another. Makara Sankranti or the harvest festival is an ancient ritual to immortalise the celebration of collective energy, of the spirit of our connection with nature and the dawn of spring. And, it is no wonder that at this time of the year, new relationships are formed, new friendships made and everyone bonds with one another sans any prejudices or preconceived notions.
As the winter morning welcomed the warm embrace of sunshine, kites were seen drifting across the horizon chasing the pre-dawn wind. The ritual of waking up early in the morning waiting for the dawn to turn into a congregation of opal and pink, just to pick the perfect spot before the skies turn into a riot of colours, is followed very sincerely amongst the children here. As the day gets brighter, the cool breeze lifts the kites aloft into the horizon and the rooftops are dotted with hordes of families challenging and coaxing each other to battle it out with kites.
With each and every household blaring music ranging from psychedelic trance to Bollywood and bhajans, the kite flying ‘ritual’ in any town gives rise to a phenomenon where social gatherings are no longer marred by pretentious greetings. A lot of terraces had music systems stacked up in a pile and a few teenagers engaged in a comedic battle of wits with their rivals on loudspeakers. Eager faces and enthusiastic souls invited curious onlookers onto their roofs by yelling out “Aa jao Aa jao lada lo. (Come. Let us have a match).” We soon decided to head towards a Dharmshala where all the action could be easily witnessed.
The sight of smiling faces perched on rooftops; eyes gleaming with mischief and childlike enthusiasm filled the air with warmth and happiness. Children were seen climbing walls and pipes to steal a kati patang or scan the best roof for optimum flying conditions. There were instructions being given out with military precision by five and six-year-olds. For them, the stage had been set and the battle was in motion.
While mothers draped in bright Bandhni saris were seen helping out their tiny toddlers balance the charkhi and manjha; a few grandfathers, smoking beedhis with a lot of panache, tried their best to bring down their neighbours’ kites. Also seen amidst a crowded settlement was a newly wed Rajput couple, dressed in their traditional attire, who exchanged glances at each other as they flew their kites. By evening, multicoloured kites and numerous birds crossed paths and one couldn’t make out the difference between our little avian friends and their lifeless flight companions soaring in the skies.
There was poetry and romance in the air and every person was inebriated in the spirit of celebration. For a change, no one was judged based on his/her caste, community, creed or even social status. There was no rich and no poor here for all gathered on their roofs as one. For those few moments, all worries and hardships were forgotten and every person indulged in the age-old past time of bonding over a ritual that epitomised connections based on unity and love. And as the warmth of sunshine drifted away from the Southern hemisphere to the Northern, everyone welcomed the rays of new hope, as customary every year, with great reverence and joy.
Many of the nomadic village families who come to Pushkar Mela to trade cattle, doll up their kids, and send them out to make some money from the tourists and photographers. These kids try their best to get some money out of the travellers, but walking around the dusty and sunny mela, the kids feel the burden of making a living at their young age.
But kids are kids and they don’t yet understand all the nuances of earning a living and find some time out to have some fun and be themselves – careless and free.
This is a small photo series on one such group of kids through which I am trying to show how a young boy was sent out with a turban and a ravanhatta (bowed fiddle/a musical instrument local to the state of Rajsthan) to attract the attention of photographers and make some money.
He and friends knew very little about making a living or playing the instrument and had very little interest in making any money. But the poor economical condition of their families leaves these kids with no other options. Struggle for life is not a new thing for these kids.
The heavy rains that ended Kumbh Mela a week earlier than it was supposed to end in February 2013 forced me to reconsider my initial plans of staying at the Mela till March 10 for Maha Shivaratri. So, I decided to join some of my friends to Benares to attend a friend’s engagement ceremony that was supposed to take place on the banks of the Ganges river opposite Assi ghat. There I met Late Baba Jagmohan Giri, a 30 something year old Naga baba from Juna Akhara, who had taken up the life of a Naga sadhu to get rid of all his past crimes. Turning into a Sadhu requires one to dissolve their existing identity; and with the dissolved identity all the acts of the past get dissolved too. At least that is the hope with which a lot of people turn to the life of a Sadhu — to run away from their past crimes.
Jagmohan Giri himself spoke of having committed a murder a few years ago.
Late Baba Jagmohan Giri of Juna akhara sitting by the eastern bank of Ganges river in Banaras. Next to him is something that you don’t usually see a Sadhu with- alcohol(champagne) that was brought to celebrate a friend’s engagement. But Baba Jagmohan was under a lot of fire from his fellow Babas for his alcohol addiction. Smoking weed/hash is an accepted and an integral part of a Sadhu’s life. But alcohol is considered to be a complete no no.
Just a few days before these photos Baba Jagmohan had been attacked and beaten up some other Sadhus over this same alcohol issue. But Jagmohan Giri was deeply troubled by his rough life experiences and too deep into alcohol, weed and crack addiction to be pulled out of it without love. And that’s something I think he never found till health complications due to his drug problems claimed his life in 2014.
He kept saying that everybody in his life used and abused him and he repeatedly asked why he deserved such treatment.
A question to which he never found an answer to his end.
A Black and white mood series from my experience at Annamalai bird sanctuary. The sanctuary is located on the outskirts Chennai, Tamilnadu in southern India in a lagoon. The entire sanctuary has to be seen on a boat with help of some fishermen who have settled down around the lagoon.
According to me fog adds so much mystery to a scene. Apart from adding a sense of drama to photographs, fog induces this element of ’untold stories hidden behind each individual’ in every image. Another thing that makes a foggy portrait so interesting is the fact that a fog always dissolves the sense of identity that a landscape provides. There is no reference point. You can gauge these individuals only from their outlook and faces and not from their surrounding setting and environment. In fact, it almost seems like they mystically appear from thin air. The sense of timelessness in his foggy portraits strikes a balance between silence and chaos.
Some of these photographs from Kumbh Mela 2013 depict the common man entangled in desires and faith carrying on with life and bearing the burden of life’s cruelties whilst a few set forth on a journey of self-discovery and righteousness. While a man staring into oblivion finds his path amidst hordes of devotees, one may wonder if the foggy night provides him the solitude he seeks for.
This blog post is in reference to ‘Out Of The Fog’ series photobook which is mainly a portrait series, with a few foggy scenes as well, to give a sense of first coming out into the fog, and then slowly seeing people face to face as you venture further deeper into the foggy surroundings.