Monday, September 2, 2013

Sufi Sardar Bawa of Haji Malang

sari zindagi
haji malang baba
ki khidmat
main bitayi hai
insaniyat ki
inke chhere par
rang layi hai
mazhab nahi banata
humko hum mazhab banate hai
khuda toh hai har zagah
phir bhi dil main tanhai hai
hindustan ek aisa dharm
muslim hindu sikh esai hai
inki khidmat khuda ko
behad pasand ayi hai
chola badalne se
dil nahi badalte
andhere main
inki khidmat se
sare jahan main
kiran jagmagayi hai
inki charno ke dhool se
hame apni kismet azmayi hai

I was crying while the qawwal played Haq Ali and was in a state of kaif .. whirling shia dervesh when someone placed a garland of flowers around my neck, , as I opened my eyes I saw Sardar Bawa crying too watching me I moved across placed the garland from my neck on to his neck .. yes this is mystical moments that live on forever..we were conjoined by our karmic faith..

Zubair Bawa Lover of Hussain

Born Sunni .. he is a Malang but people lovingly call him Mastan , he is Peersaab Fakru Miya Hujra No 6 .. main Murid , he loves Imam Hussain , cries whenever he remembers Karbala , curses Yazid and enemies of Ahle Bayt .

Imam Hussain Ibn Ali (AS) the third Imam.

Second son of Fatima (SA) and Ali (AS) Hussain (AS) was born on 3rd Shabaan, 4th year of Hijri (10.1.626 AD) When he was born the Holy Prophet was given the news of the birth of his 2nd grandson. He arrived at the house of his daughter, took the little baby in his arms, said the Azan and Iqamah in his ears. People around the Prophet saw tears in his eyes. Fatimah asked what was the reason for this, he told her that this boy of hers will achieve martyrdom, but consoled her by adding that God will create a nation who will mourn Hussain till the Day of Judgement. Another famous saying of the Prophet at the same time became synonymous with the name of his grandson Hussain. “Hussian-o-Minni wa Ana Minul Hussain”. Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain. One can explain this Hadith that Hussain, being the grand son of the Prophet was from him biologically. How a grandfather was from his grand son needs to be explained. Prophets of God speak spiritually rather than materially. He was talking about Islam the Deen he was assigned by God to propagate God's religion.. He was for Islam and his whole life was for Islam and its establishment on earth. Any break in this mission would subvert this mission which was the purpose of his creation. The message of the Holy Prophet in this saying was that Hussain will, in some near future save this mission from destruction, hence the very purpose of his being will be saved by the sacrifice of his grandson. He was giving the news of a future occurrence. The story of Kerbala unfolds.

The World Of Rafaees At Sola Khamba Jalali Chowk

The first time I came to Ajmer Sharif was in 2005 , I was invited by Peersaab Fakhru Miya Hujra No6 ,, and he was gracious enough to make me at home treating me as one of his extended family ,,

And I shot Ajmer as it grew on me I shot it as a street photographer , so my pictures can never be touristy in nature I shot malangs rafaees beggars and the transgender community ,,,and being known among all of them it gave me access .. but than rules changed , photography was not allowed in the Dargah so I never shot the Dargah interiors.. and it used to be ironically confusing that I am a lover of Ajmer Sharif ,, its symbolism of peace hope humanity as promoted by Kwajah Garib Nawaz.

Time being short , I hardly saw other places but if I had time I would visit Pushkar ,,, I could not make it this year .. I walk barefeet so I have to be careful too .. I am a diabetic .

Ajmer I visit only during the Urus , though Peersab calls me for Moharam too, but I prefer shooting Moharam in Hyderabad..

Most of the Urus in Mumbai happen during Moharam so I am unable to take part in the festive aspect as I am in mourning for Imam Hussain.

Zanjirwale Bawa Of Indore

I have not met him since three years now , but he always called me once he reached Mumbai to connect with his Murid ,,he has aged and has been welded in iron chains about 70 kg or more , and I used to meet him at Haji Malang Ajmer Sharif .. he is a follower of the 4 th Shia Imam Zainul Abedin , and Zanjiwale Bawa has put chains on his feet in memory of this beloved Imam son of Imam Hussain survivor of the genocide at Karbala and the humiliation of the Holy House of the Prophet at Damascus Sham by Yazid.

Zanjiwale Bawa was a sweeper of the Shrines at Hussain Tekri Jaorah, he set off on this pilgrimage in chains spreading the Word Of Ahle Bayt and Karbala .
He scourges his head with spearheads on chains chanting Ya Hussain Ya Hussain

We have been friends for a very long time I met him first at Chancawali Shrine Andheri.

Shooting The Rafaees Of India

The Rafaees can be nice peaceful , but some can be highstrung volatile and may do harm to you and your camera , even now I ask them politely before shooting them , those I dont know but in the Dargah Malang Rafaee circuit almost everyone knows me..but I am hotheaded too and if someone bullies me I give it back.. but the other Bawas immediately come and support me and they know I dont sell their pictures .. they know I love to shoot them .. so it is cool in the end,

Renouncing Life To Become An Ascetic

Most of the bawas , rafaees malangs have chosen to live a life without attachment to worldly life, and they live , without any permanent address moving from one Urus to the next, some make peace live in the vicinity of a dargah and its Dhuni.. the Holy Fire .

In Indian colloquial parlance they are called Bawas Malangs or Mastan...most of them have followers , hangar ons , who keeps the Bawas need for food hash other comforts alive ,,the real genuine iconic Bawas have their rich patrons and hold sway over their Murids.

I have been documenting the Rafaees , a particular group called the Chancawalli Rafaees from Mumbai attached to the Dhuni of Shancawali Dargah Andheri East,

I first met them at Makhdhoom Shah Babas Dargah Mahim they manage the Dhuni there during the Urus and after their Sandal move to Fakhruddin Shah Babas Dargah Mahim main road.

From there they split into smaller groups .. moving to other Shrines .. than I caught up with them at Haji Malang at the Rafaee Chowk.. and finally to Ajmer Sharif and the Jalali Chowk,,Sola Khamba .. now the entire group has splintered and few of the original members remain..

But I moved away from the Rafaees and began documenting the Malangs of India .. I belong to the Sufi order of Asqan Malangs and the head is Syed Masoomi Baba Madari Asqan.The actual Malangs wear dread locks .. black clothes with white lungis ,, or pajamas

The Malang main Urus is at the Holy Shrine of Zinda Shah Madar Makanpur 65 Km from Kanpur ,,

A lot of Murids become Malangs at Makanpur and there is a ritual of initiation.. and he has to beg from the other malangs and the crowds after he is blessed by Masoomi Baba .

Documenting Malangs and living with them is a learning experience ,,, I became a Malang three years back.. and I connect with them during the Urus at Ajmer Sharif,..

Malang for me is a state of mind that does not change my basic core material only strengthens it..

Old Monk

Old age comes on suddenly, and not gradually as is thought.
Emily Dickinson

The Poor Call Him Masoomi Baba

they flock
to him from
far and wide
this poor mans
'living saint
mentor guide
they ask him
to pray for
their well being
battered souls
on hope bestride
some from villages
some homeless
from the roadside
humility is the
'essence of
the dam madar
malang he prays
he provides
touches heals
your soul inside
bringing him
back home
from the sad
when he cried
bringing him
back to life
from when
he died
to his human
spirit with
re surging
from within
self respect
self dignity
in god
the maker
the pain

Pablo Bartholomew And The Malang Of Mumbai

What Is Childhood Without Hands

watching him
play cricket
gilli danda
i felt in my head
tried to understand
why is pain
indian a heritage
of this land
some rape
murder steal
making use
of their limbs
time weeps
mutely stands
kill another
person for
a few grands
the hand that
takes bribes
rapes the nations
treasury ..and
must i really
expand ..sadhus
wolves in sheep
clothing supported
by a corrupt system
by a matrix of evil
our national brand
this was not the
country for which
the freedom fighters
fought gave their lives
now going down
the quicksand..

the limbless beggar
of ajmer ..courage
honor ..pride of
my motherland

The Limbless Boy Of Ajmer

This was shot on 17 May 2013 at Ajmer Urus .This is his latest image , the ones I posted earlier was shot 7 June 2011 ..the earlier image was shot barefeet , and I shot just a few frames because my feet were burning .. after shooting him I never saw him again till 2013.

There are two people who as beggars human beings , unfortunate have gown over my poetic consciousness , this child and Appu my best friend without hands or legs.

Appu disappears like me , like the way I disappear from Facebook time and again to refresh restart the computer of my beggar soul..I cannot carry the baggage of too many friends specially people I dont know ,I am hesitant to add as the person does not have a generic background ,,I dont add people at Flickr if they dont have a profile ..sorry.. I see their favorites also before adding them.. I may not be comfortable with your choice of images , I dont add certain communities though I have respect for them, most of them are here for the wrong reasons , voyeurism , titillation soft or hard porn.

So I removed all my 20000 images of transgender and the Mumbai pride march.. I stopped shooting the pride march as there are bigots among them than among the majority..

Well back to this little boy .. I shot him near Dhai Djinn ka Jhopda and this was taken hastily while leaving Ajmer .. and I paid him on both occasions ..I wish I had time to only ask his name and from which place he was , most of the beggars that come to the Urus are not from Ajmer.

I try not force poetry on all my images , the image and my poetry in some situations are cosmically attached , I am not just a photographer or a documentarist but a poet too.. photography made me a poet .. I cant write poems without images .. I need a poem that lives breathes feels pain like me..I shoot beggars I call myself a beggar poet..earlier I wore saffron I shot a lot of Hindu stuff my detractors called me Hindu Shia .. but ever since I became a Malang I only wear black ..I calll myself a beggar poet ..per se.

My poems might be published after my death hopefully .. I dont intend to live long .. I have decided to die soon naturally ..without being a burden to my family ..being a Malang some things dont defy imagination at all.

I forced this child back to shoot him again....after two years of a disappearing act..

what is his name
i did not ask him
should not come
as a surprise
i had no time to
ask him as i
walked past him
twice ..all i could
feel were his
haunting eyes
as it pierced
the poetry in
my soul
plain simple
from the fumes
of nothingness
making words
rise .. holding
me my silence
in a vice ..the
limbless beggar
boy of ajmer
is a mystic like
me in disguise
a photographer too
shooting me
shaming me
with his orbs
like rolling dice
mocking me
playfully jostling me
like a cat does to a mice

this poem was inspired by a comment by a friend ..
Those eyes will haunt me
mm gives him a huge hug

Keh Tere Khuda Ko Main Khush Naseeb Hoon

Tuh Jitna Tere Khuda Ke Kareeb Nahi
Main Utna Kareeb Hoon ..Tuh Ameer He Sahi
Main Gareeb Hoon ...Tuh Agar Khwab Hai
Main Junoon Hoon..

My 100000 Tweet .. Dam Madar Beda Par Ali Haq ..

ya ali
keh kadam
rakh ,, hamesha
hamesha good luck
dam madar beda par
a mantra that works

Bandra Skywalk Where Kadka Lovers Meet My 99999 Tweet

a railway
pass in the pocket
hardly any money
for a date in a hotel
but our romeo on heat
a lump in his genes
bitter and sweet
so the cheapest
place without
any problems is
bandra skywalk
where lovers meet
a circle complete
my 99999 tweet

thank you all
from a malang barefeet

The Bandra Skywalk .. Where Only a Few Kids Women Walk..For Older Folks It Is A Deadlock

ridden legs
with every
step feel
the shock
this skywalk
sheer waste
of public money
the soul of humanity
mocks ..only drug addicts
drunks use it as home
round the clock
bandra boys
stand beneath
it will tell you
the color
of the undies
of girls wearing
frocks ...hijras
love this skywalk
to catch up
with young studs
get humped
on the band stand
rocks ...this same
money could have
been utilized
for better platforms
on bandra station
the common man
lifes journey
a few more knocks
scams corruption
every day on the DNA
a new spine chilling
mystery unlocks