Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Day In The Life Of Mangilal Chaiwala Bandra Reclamation

Hooked To Faith

When I first began documenting this religious event of the devotees of Goddess Marriammen..I shot the cheek piercing , and shot the pain as the rod was pushed into the mouth , the point lubricated with butter , and once it entered in the rod piercer spat a volley of milk in the open mouth of the devotee , the moment he did that the rod was easily pushed into the mouth coming out from the other end ,,sometimes the guy with the rod in his mouth would collapse , immediately a lime was placed under his feet ,all the limes blessed at the Marriammen Temple ,,
Than I began documenting the hooks being inserted in the devotees back, this was more painful as it requires two or three people to force the hooks into the too to ease the pain a lime was placed in the mouth of the devotee ..And I have seen guys different size of hooks .. here I must add Shanmugham my friend who inserts the hooks at Worli Seaface ,than finally has hooks placed in his own back, he is built like a bull but to push the hooks in his back requires 5 people , the hook refuses to go in his taut back, and his hooks are giant size , earlier he and Sundar placed huge clusters of 15 kilos of tadgolas on it and walked fro Worli seaface to the Marriammen temple at Madraswadi.. but than since last year 5 of them led by Shanmugham pull a luxury bus with hooks ,, the same distance.
Guys at Juhu Nehru Nagar pull 10 guys on bikes with hooks in the back,, but I get tired as I am on my feet and all this happens in the end , this year at Nehru Nagar I left early ,,
At Sion Koliwada I shot for two years a Hijra Ashok from Nasik who came down here to have his cheeks pierced with a 18 feet rod and he was one brave one .. these pictures I have disabled from public view , I have shot kids with rods in their mouths .
I still meet guys who get angry and abusive for documenting this but than they are put in their place by the people who know me in the crowds ,,I met a guy at Juhu beach who was threatening me to put a rod in my mouth I told him go ahead , than Shanmugham who saw this came spoke in Tamil and quietened him down.
This is my genre and I love shooting this feast of the Tamils passionately ,,and I was called to many areas but I did not go..I dont know the people , young kids mostly and one needs a lot of stamina to follow and shoot them , .
This year I shot more videos both on my camera and mobile .
The most painful ritual in the end after the procession returns to the Marriammen Temple is the removing of the rods , as the rod gets stuck in the dry mouth , and now to bring it out again milk is used to lubricate and bring it out , even the hooks get embedded in the flesh and it is as tough removing them, than the womens tongue the trishul is removed , the limes attached to needles is removed and there is a sea of limes near the temple ,
So without my Tamil friends I dont think I could have shot this storyboard ,,they treat me like their own blood brother and Shanmugham has my pictures on his event banner that reads Photos by Firoze Shakir ,, and I tell him every year not to do it , I dont even give them the photos all at Flickr ,, but this is his greatness that becomes part of his humility to this beggar poet .
I am really tiered I had a very hectic day ..I had walked 8 km in the morning and my legs are numb than I went to Worli Seaface and from there to Zaveri Bazar by cab but I again walked about 6 km ,, finally bought some gifts for Nerjis Marziya and returned home by bus to Bandra bought blood-worm for my flowrhorns reached home at 9 pm.
Now in some time I will go for my early morning walk,, at MET Cricket grounds ,,start of a new day.. and blogging the restless soul of my inner angst ,,,