Friday, January 29, 2010

Faith Can Move Mountains too as it Moves You And Me

The first time I came here at the Chand Shah Wali Dhuni , it was at the invitation of Late Sikandar Wali Baba head of the Dhuni and the Chand Shah Wali Rafaees , but who held court during the Makhdoom Shah Baba Urus at Mahim , their dhuni was behind the Mahim Shrine, I was introduced to Sikandar Wali Baba by Fahad Khalil Pathan son of the late Peshimam of Makhdoom Shah Baba Mosque.

It was a fascinating moment I began documenting the Rafaees body piercers , with a lot of stiff opposition from some of the members who did not want their pictures taken that , their rituals expose, specially the smoking of drugs a core aspect of the rafaees and their hangar-ons at the Dhuni.

After the Makhdoom Shah Baba Urus got over the Chand Shah Wali rafaees or as I call them Chancawalli rafaees moved their Dhuni to the smaller also popular Dargah of Baba Fakhr or Fakhruddin Shah Baba,once this Urus got over , and in the life time of late Sikandar Wali Baba the Rafees again parked themselves at Parel at Ismail Shah Baba , they dont sit at the Ismail Shah Baba Dhuni after Sikandar Waklli Babas death, and it continued in a nomadic fashion , till they completed their Urus rounds, and it was only because of late Sikandar Wali Baba I climbed the Haji Malang mountains and discovered the Hijra paradise that I have been shooting non stop for several years.
It was here that Laxmi Narayan Tripathi became my Hijra Guru..and I shot her with a divine passion , I shoot Laxmi like no photographer does , I shoot her from my soul as a poet per se..

After the Haji Malang Urus in 2005 I visited the Ajmer Sharif Urus , the first time in my life so it has been over 6 long years following the rafaees fakirs of this exotic community ..some belong to the Chistiya order or some to the Qadri order.

It was at Ajmer Sharif I met Peersaab Fakhru Miya of Hujra no 6 and I try to visit this Holy Place year after year in spite of financial constrains and other difficulties I am faced with when the Urus at Ajmer starts ,but I overcome it all , changing various trains , walking on foot , breaking journey I do reach Ajmer in the humility of a blogger beggar of Mumbai..

But Ajmer Sharif is the mother of all Urus for these poor mendicants and body piercers.

There was an incident that stopped my visiting the Chand Shah Wali Dargah completely it happened during my first visit when Sikandar Wali Baba was alive , I was shooting Indore Wale Baba a follower of the Fourth Shia Imam , Zainul Abeddin, Baba has permanently placed irremovable chains on his arms and legs , a total of 160 kgs, and Baba and I got along because I too wear kadas on my feet and I walk barefeet..

While I was shooting this Bawa in chains one of the custodians or trustee of this Dargah , accosted the Bawa placing Rs 40 on his face asked me t take a shot I refused.
He was mad at me and dared me to come to the Dargah again , as he was a big shot even Sikandar Wali Baba told me to remain quite , I walked away from the Dhuni , as I was about to leave Zanjir Bawa came up to me and apologized on behalf of the big shot trustee , I put my hands in my pocket to remove some money and was shocked it was Rs 40 that I willingly gave to Zanjirwale Bawa ..the same amount the big shot trustee wanted to give him , but did not give it to him as I did not shoot the picture.

Since that day I never came to Chan Shah Wali Dargah, and here I was bought once again by Sakib my florist friend for the Chancawalli Urus 2010

So Zanjirwale Bawa and I became the best of buddies , and he waits for me at all the major Urus , and he will be waiting for me at Haji Malang too, I have delayed my trip due to work commitments.

And dont ask me how Zanjirwale Bawa with 160 kg excess weight climbs the 7 km rough terrain barefeet and with chains on his arms and legs.

Yes Faith can move Mountains as it moves you and me through a single picture..embedded in the soul of a Blog.

Kids Dont Need Cameras When They Shoot Photographers

Chancawalli Urus 2010

I start a new set at my Flickr photostream,the Chancawalli Urus 2010..
The Chancawalli Dargah houses the revered tomb of Baba Haji Syed Usman Shah Qadri alias Chand Shah Baba Vihar lake Road , Pachkauli..Piru Baugh reach there via Powai ..
I came here in the night along with my dear friend Sakib on his bike , we had a great problem finding the Dargah because Sakib forgot the road ..

We reached there eventually , and this was my second trip, last I had come here many years back when Sikandar Wali Baba the head of the Chancawali Rafaees was alive..

I have documented the life style of the rafaee Sufi body piercers or mendicants or fakirs..they have a Dhuni here and Chancawalli Dargah is on a huge Muslim Sunni cemetery..It is a very serene place away from the hustle bustle of life, I shot this kid at the sanctum sanctorom of the Holy Shrine..he was so fascinated with my rings and would not let go of my hand.
After shooting pictures here I visited the Bawas at the Dhuni and they just could not believe I had come to visit them.

I met Barsati Bawa now the present head of the Chancawalli Rafaees.

I shot a lot of pictures and at about 3 am I reached home..Sakib and I had dinner at the Dargah with his florist friend Rahim Bhai.

I shot the herbal aphrodisiac and medicine sells extensively that had almost every herbal cure for any illness..there was only one single gemstone guy and it was the first day of the Chancawalli Urus his business had not yet picked up.

But the most intriguing incident , happened when I was shooting the Dargah interior, the poor lady who takes care of the shoes slippers of the devotees , saw me bowed her head , than coming closer to me she placed Rs 21 in my hands ,,she said she would have given me more but business was bad as it was the first day of the Urus , I was about to tell her I am not a Fakir, but I kept quite not wanting to hurt her sentiments.

So I quietly took the precious mount , I thought I would give it to some beggar lady at the Dargah, but Sakib told me to take it home , the next morning I gave the amount to my maid servant for her kids..

I realized that giving alms is a privilege but receiving alms from a person poorer than you is an honor..yes verily I am a beggar too.. and the humility of a person poorer than you is the humility of God..

The Icegolawala of Transit Camp Bandra

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When you exit out of the Indrajinagar slums , you just cant miss the Icegolawala of Bandra Transit camp..and for the kids he is the much needed person to quench their parched throats and he is cheaper than ice cream that you get at supermarkets ..

Mind you these are slum kids , most of the parents work, and the kids with some loose change come here and form a friendly cluster around the ice candy man.

This Ice candy man is very jovial, friendly and the parents trust him too, kids who cant handle the ice gola on a stick have it straight from a glass when the ice melts.

The poor kids childhood especially those living in the slums is incomplete without the icegolawala..