Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Hijra Bawas of Ajmer Demystified

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Most of the hijra bawas I sighted were mostly at Ajmer Char Yar, and here the spirituality of peace is the strongest..there is no bigotry or sectarian strife and the Sufi ethos in Ajmer or the dargahs is nothing but an overlapping of an extension of Sunnism..this is my personal observation , and though it goes under the name of Chishtiya order at the highest level of Sufi thought.

The Hijra bawas are on holistic healing path and have rich patrons but the few HIjra bawas I met are fiercely followers of Hazrat Hussain and Karbala.

For them Hussain is the beginning and the end and Karbala is an example of supreme sacrifice..and here at the asthanas they sing praises of Imam Hussain .. even the qawwalis are in praise of Imam Ali Ahle Bayt and Kwjajh Garib Nawaz on whose humility and bounty they sit at his gates.


I knew a hijda Hija Bulundshaher she was a practicing Shia and made it obvious by her attitude and her love for Imam Hussain she would curse Yazid his followers his progeny quite openly.,I was her ardent fan and she like me because we were products of the same divine love of Hussain.

Last I heard she died but I am not sure I miss her the most.

So as a photographer this part of hijra life that transcends into a realm of mysticism asceticism has driven me to explore and shoot..

I have met hijra scholars and hijra promoters of universal peace .. and this has caught me like a viral bug these are all pictures I posted without text but I am adding my new thoughts and reminiscing my experiences as photo blogs.

Kya Ap Bhi Hijre Ho

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I got this message in my Facebook inbox a few seconds back from a Facebook friend I mean can you imagine a guy sending this to me because I am posting links to my Facebook updates as a documentary on Hijra asceticism and mysticism ,

When I posted Hindu links he did not ask me Kya Ap Hindu Ho

Or when I posted Christian links he dd not ask me Kya Ap Christian Ho



Fuck I give up ..

And I add people when they send a friend because we share common mutual friends .. and half the people or even more on my Friends list I dont know..

And this guy is a Shia so I am surprised at his fucked question and attitude..

He is now no more on my list..

Because he is a Shia he wants me to be like him with a sparrows mind and a donkeys tale..

Hijra Bawas At Ajmer 2009

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The Hijra Bawas are retired hijras , who have renounced the life of materialism and glamor, for Sufi mysticism, they sit at Char Yar with their male counterparts , practicing what is known as Dua Tawiz or holistic healing.

The are patronized by rich hijras and also normal men and woman searching a cure for their bodily and mental ailments.


I had to cut short my trip and come back to Mumbai due to work commitment or I would have shot a lot of footage, I did not go to Pushkar or Taragadh, I came to Ajmer on 28 June 2009 7.30 pm and left on 30 June 2009 at 11 am by the Aravalli Express for Mumbai.

Tickets for the return jouney was next to impossible I got my by paying extra charges called Tatkal.
Last year I had traveled with Hijras but this time there were two from Bandra East in the ordinary coach, I also shot Hijras on the next platform...heading for Delhi.

Char Yar and Moti Katla are the two places for shooting my kind of action..I took pictures in my stride never jumping the gun as you guys call it..

Hijra Bawas of Char Yar

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This is Char Yar the adda of the Hijra bawas , top reigning hijra queens gurus chelas come here to for dua tawiz and spiritual guidance.

Possession getting rid of magical spells this is a one stop shop for all that.

The Hijra Mystics of Ajmer

Hijda Bawas of Ajmer

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Hijda Bawas are transgender , they have renounced worldly life to follow a path of Sufi asceticism, you find them in clusters at Char Yar or Sola Khamba at Ajmer.

Rashid Hijra Bawa of Haji Malang And the Blogger Bawa of Mumbai

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This was shot at Ajmer Urus 2009.


And Rashid Bawa loves to drama on the streets , he plays to the gallery collecting crowds but he is genuine fond of me..and I shoot him wherever I see him and share him with all of you on the wild web.

If I had the resources and the inclination I would make a movie of my adventures in hijra land it has all the ingredients of being a box office hit...

The Hijra Bawa Mujawir of Kuldabad Dargah

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We met at Chor Bazar many years back before I began shooting hijras , she has an adopted daughter married to a friend of mine... an antique dealer.

So she was quite surprised seeing me at Haji Malang.

She takes care of the Dargah Kuldabad.

She is a hijda bawa..

She does dua tawiz

She is absolutely powerful.

She is very close to my hijra guru Laxmi Narayan Tripathi.

Rashid Hijra Bawa of Haji Malang

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Rashid Bawa sells gemstones and designs his own chunky Sufi jewelery he is unique in Sufidom and carries himself with aplomb, he is highly respected holds a high position in the hijra community.

He was a dance teacher for the top heroines of the Indian film industry..in his hey days.

Rashid Hijra Bawa of Haji Malang

179,205 items / 1,408,383 views

Rashid Bawa sells gemstones and designs his own chunky Sufi jewelery he is unique in Sufidom and carries himself with aplomb, he is highly respected holds a high position in the hijra community.

He was a dance teacher for the top heroines of the Indian film industry..in his hey days.

The Hijda Rafaee

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The Hijda Rafaee is a transgender who was in the procession of the Sandal of Fakhruddin Shah Baba , he was along with the Chancawalli Rafaees and Handi the Head of the Chancawalli Rafaeeas did not like my photographing him, a clear distaste that Handi did not hide..
I was surprised as I know in Ajmer the Hijda Bawas and the Rafaees get along pretty well ...He the Hijda Rafaee did not seem to be bothered by Handis insulting remarks , and he was wearinga gents coat and trousers unlike the Hijdas who dress as women..
it was his masculine side spiritually displayed.. I took two shots .

And as I update this post today 13 June 2009, he might have the last laugh, Handi Sai died recently overdose of drugs ..I am told ..his place has been taken over by Barsati Bawa ..


And I am updating it again 7 April 2011
I last saw him once after this at Haji Malang he was very high but never saw him after that.

Suhagan Baba At Chor Bazar Mumbai

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We met the first time at a restaurant off Chor Bazar called Paradise, I was barefeet and more opulently dressed than him, he tried making feminine advances from his table, but I ignored him, but than all of a sudden his host an antique dealer who had bought him here from Ajmer Sharif walked in , I was introduced to him as all the dealers show a lot of respect , and hold me in reverence because of my visits at the various Dargahs they visit also.


He did not want to tell me about this woman like dressed bawa but I did not mind, when I met him I had never been to Ajmer at all.


He liked a silver ring on my finger a Yemeni agate, I gave it to him, the moment I gave him the ring , he took out a long prayer bead round his neck, you can see it in the picture and put it around my neck.

We parted I dont wear plastic , but I did not want to hurt his feelings, I had barely walked a distance I felt the beads were throttling me , this is the truth, I started sweating profusely,being diabetic and having hypertension, I did not connect this with the beads.

When I reached home in a terrible state , I told my wife about the events, Suhagan Baba that was his name.. The first thing Wife told me was to remove the beads, I thought I would throw them in the sea.But Wife said give it back to him the following Friday the day I go to Chor Bazar.


I met him on the next trip and he was sitting at the same table waiting for me, I told him I wanted to return his beads,, he said I know that.
He put the beads around his neck, than I shot this series of pictures.

My various trip to Ajmer I searched for him, but I never found him.


He was touting that he had a cure for AIDS Cancer , and other terminal diseases, but I am not into this hogwash, so I just nodded my head.
But its unfortunate the poor people get conned ,.

I asked his host who has a shop at Chor Bazar, but his whereabouts are unknown..

The Sada Suhagins are a Bawa sect who dress like women but are not hijras.

At first I thought he was but these guys marry produce kids , thet dress as women and are the equivalent of the Hindu Ardh Nari Nareshwar.

Hijra Bawas at Char Yar Ajmer

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This Char Yar cemetery at Ajmer Sharif where all the malangs bawas rafaees congregate , Char Yar denizens never sleep the nights are daytime here ..qawwali sessions and chillum rounds and color and here you will meet the strangest people that you will never find in the wide world , this is a challenge and you should the balls to come here too.. some of the bawas are absolutely insane crazy, I am always on their hit list I shoot them and run , but i wont stop shooting them , some have stopped my camera they have heavy stuff going on here believe me.

Only because of Peer Naushad Ali Bawa I manage to save my ass from getting beaten by some of the more weird bawas.

But I mostly sit with the dread head malangs or the hijra bawas , I dont smoke nor do I give money to them to buy hash, I give money for buying milk for tea that's about it so some of the bawas hate me for my belligerent innocence towards their welfare.

The lady in white is a hijra highly educated she camn talk on any topic I think someone broke her heart real bad she renounced hijra fame and glory and became a bawa Murid too ..

There are lot of stories fables here and I have such a bad fucked memory I forget it soon enough I shoot pictures ..this is my high my nasha.

Rashid Bawa The Soul of Dance And Mysticism

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Rashid Bawa is a hijra bawa , there was a time almost every top old heroine in the film industry had learnt to dance under him..and its his humility he wont tell ther names or tell me anecdotes of that era.

He is famous in the hijra samaj, he has one grouse I have shot him extensively but never given him a copy of his picture.

We meet during the Urus circuit and he has a gemstone stall during the Haji Malang Urus I have never bought anything from him..

He loves little children and they are always around him.

He is a unique hijra Bawa the No1 in the hijra community , he dances at hijra parties before the Hijra sandals.. hijras respect him old young everyone his favorite color is black and he loves crowds when he poses for me on the Ajmer streets .

Al his pictures are on my Flickr hijra bawa sets.. he is an amazing case study as a hijra model rare and out of this world.

This was shot this year I dont carry much jewelery to Haji Malang I am scared of losing it so I was very simply dressed..as compared to him.

The Maulaiee Hijra Bawa Char Yar Ajmer

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She sits at Char Yar the cemetery cum haven in Ajmer for all mystic strange people , and they are aloof , reticent they have hijra or normal male murids.


The chillum is a part of their mysticism some hijra bawas dont smoke it all.. I know the core group as the hijra bawas know I come here every year and I am guest of Peers Saab Fakhru Miya Hijra No6 where I stay.

And they know I am a Moualiee and a Shia.

This bawa is a hardcore Mauliee it is only Hussain and Karbala on her lips ..and her faith I think in Hussain is indomitable in its essence and its beauty.

I have wept when she speaks of the Battle of Karbala , she is a hijra and flies me on her broken wings I see what I could not see with human eyes.

These hijra bawas are clairvoyants exorcists and do dua tawiz..they dont harm anyone they light the path and they are pios they have given up life of sex taken up celibacy ..

Many intellectual hijras come and sit with them , hijras that talk on Freud Adler and Jung.. hijras that speak the language of Rumis wisdom Gibrans poetry and it is an exciting world a world of dreams etches on this poets soul.

This is an esoteric group, and they shoo away ordinary mortals and when I sit and shoot them a crowd collects that disturbs but such is Ajmer Sharif ..

There are qawali sessions and I have gone into kaif and smashed myself my camera on the floor but nothing happens , I need a lot of space for kaif as i rotate on the sul of nothingness I go into circles within circles but here my movements are restricted..

The main person in this are the Peer is Naushad Ali Bawa I always pay my respects to him , he hardly talks,, and his pictures are all black.. unless he lets down his spiritual guard I have shot him successfully..he is a huge larger than life personality head of the rafaees and the body piercers and some malang school of thoughts.


A little ahead is a tiny group Chancawalli Rafaees that I have documented and shot for several years I beg with them , I do kaif I did not take up the art of rafaee for obvious reasons as I do the real thing with a sword or dagger during Ashura and Chehlum.


I have met a Rafaee Hijra bawa too in Mumbai.

Shooting Char Yar the bawas and the hijra bawas has been a fascination that goes beyond the inner darkness of my soul..

And outside in the Char Yar mosque are the dread headed Malangs with 33 feet hair tied in a huge turban , these are my patron too..I will talk about them later.. as I have nothing to upload I am bringing this set forward from my Flickr date of posting.. these were textless posts I have added fuel to fire..

Half Man Half Woman Sada Suhagin


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This was shot last year at Ajmer Sharif and I was at Char Yar among the HIjra Bawas , the hijra bawas are hijras who have renounced material life of glamor and glitz and taken sanyas so to speak, they do dua tawiz guide the hijra community towards Sufi spirituality.

They also exorcise demons as the hijras are very prone to demonic possession because of their alluring beauty and mystical gender.


The Sada Suhagins on the other hand are not hijras at all they are normal male with normal male desires they marry have children , but they have given themselves to a higher authority they say they are married to God and are also known as Moosa Suhagins. They wear ladies attire but dont behave or have the body language of hijras.

I first met a Sada Suhagin at Ajmer Station many years back I was too embarrassed to take his picture he had long hair long beard dressed in a salwar kameez , I am conservative I knew he was a Bawa and I was a bit hesitant in approaching him , I should have , but I am a impulsive photographer sometimes I shoot straight in the face without asking permission ready to bear the consequences too.

Because of my own attire I am forgiven , the hijras I shoot think I am bawa too..and the matter ends there.

The Sada Suhagin have their holy site their holy saints but I dont take notes and I am in a hurry for my next shot so I dont ask pesky questions at all.

And that has been a gift for me , as I am sure a lot of hijras would not like to discuss their past with strangers.

Last night I posted my Mumbai cages Red Light area links at Facebook,,,but I have not mentioned at Facebook ar here at Flickr the reason for shooting this notorious lane , as I know a few friendly dons attached to this region in a distant way I asked one of them to introduce me to some single mother prostitutes I wanted to meet them talk to them if they allowed I would shoot them... but my friendly don was the lowest in the ladder he was far to small.

He gave me two street hoodlums who took me to a house of retired prostitutes playing cards they allowed me to shoot the cages street below..

While I was walking up the stairs I met Heena Hijra , we became friends as she had sen me at Haji Malang.. she took me to meet her Guru Lakshmi a different one from the hijra icon and my guru..

Lakshmi allowed me to shoot Heena .

I became phone friendly with Heena and thus began the visits to Peela House almost 4 times ..its been more than a year I have not gone there Heena and I lost contact she did not turn up this year at Haji Malang, but her Guru told me she was busy and that I had made her into a cult figure on the internet.

I am still waiting for someone to introduce me to single mother prostitutes but I have decided I shall wait for a legitimate contact.. but now my views have changed considerably I dont think I could take pictures of them or their kids and add more stigma to their fucked future ..I am father I know their pain as a human being and as a poet too..I would shoot their hands faceless silhouettes.

And my hijra pictures are not for titillation , the hijras I shot are women and not sex objects.. they have dreams they fly on broken wings and I shoot hijras to show you their world as human as your own world is but their is worse , their lives in spite of wealth beauty lacks the right to live as they want to live.

I believe that prostitution should be legal as alcohol is for those above 18.. you could be given a permit by our regressive law makers to legally screw a hijra or a whore..

I only think once this is legalized the allure will fade and hopefully women and children wont be kidnapped into this trade , but than this is wishful thinking , womens flesh from time immemorial is the most sought after and the younger the fresher the more exorbitant it is .. its the system as corrupt vile and heinous as it comes there is nothing one can do about it.

I had gone to Kamatipura a long time back, and the pimp had told me not to take pictures , but he showed me a place where young nubile boys had just been introduced as hijras into the trade.. a glare from the horrid hijra madam I retraced my steps.. so everything exists...she knew I was a photographer with a hidden camera.

Money Walks Money Talks.

The Decisive Moment of Surprise

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an everlasting
moment
after
the shot
lasts forever
never dies
wingless
but soars
as it flies
diamonds
glittering
in her eyes
reflecting
sparkling
skies
oh to be
young again
the poets
soul cries

Lalbaugh Chya Raja Mukut Darshan 2019

I am perhaps the only Muslim shooting Lalbaugh Chya Raja for over 20 years or more ,,thanks to Mr Sudhir Salvi head honcho of the Mandal.....