Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
The Gods are everywhere – literally.
In busy Bombay, in parts where its working class real people live, almost every street has a wayside shrine.
A holy tree or an unusual rock or a strange find are all it takes for someone to glorify the location and create a shrine on the spot. And soon enough the shrine develops a religious following, with the busy passers-by, stopping to pray for a minute and offer gratitude.
The pictures here have been collected across many locations, across many months, across varied photo-shoots, and I will add more images as I capture them.
Soon enough a micro industry is born around the shrine, with vendors of offerings – such as flowers, coconuts and milk – setting up shop around the shrine. Feeding a cow earns one good karma, so this gives rise to a commercial proposition – a cow is parked near the shrine and the owner of the cow sells you a stack of grass to feed the cow! You earn your karma and the cow-owner makes a profit. A win-win situation for all! Will post pictures of this in a few weeks…
Street Shrines are not restricted to Bombay – they are everywhere:
Tree shrines are a special case of street shrines. Mature Banyan and Pipal trees are commonly selected for women-only patronage. On certain festivals, women fast and tie red and yellow auspicious thread to the tree during the worship that involves 7 circumabulations. The object of the prayer is usually the husband.
As can be seen, the architect has made arrangements to accommodate the tree….the two tress shown above are in different locations and a roof with a tree-trunk-freeway is a common sight all across India. Plants and trees find a natural place in vedic chants and mantras…so finding a place within a building seems to be a trivial matter!
There are many more such shrines I have in mind and will click them soon – like the one on Patto bridge Goa, the one at Khar Danda, Bombay, the one on Carter Road in the sea that has begun to acquire a cult-like following….
The number and the variety of street shrines I see on my travels has me convinced that these quaint un-priested unstructured, unofficial residences of the Gods, unsung and un-glorified, far outnumber their official residences – the temples.
And the Gods ARE indeed everywhere!
A shrine in Goa at the lighthouse along the river Mandovi:
More as and when I find them…
More images from my iPhone:
More from Ladakh
on the way to shey palace
18000 ft above sea level at Khardungla pass
Jan 2016: One in Singapore
Read a related article on ‘The Travelling godmen of India’ here.