Religion is a very big thing in India and people do all sorts of things here for it. Even though there are uncountable temples in India, all of them are not famous. There are some small ones which has some special significance among people. One such religious place is in a place called Bhiwadi, Rajasthan which is close to where I live. And the temple is called ‘Baba Mohan Ram Mandir’ also known as ‘Kali Kholi’. The temple is named after the saint Mohan Ram who is believed to be an avatar of Lord Krishna but I wonder why he is named after Lord Ram.
I have been there few times, not to worship, but to do photography, my passion. It is a good place for me to photograph as I find interesting faces of people from Rajasthan and Haryana there. People come here to fulfil their wish specially on days after full moon and no moon. Some people do things which would be very difficult for a normal human being like walking barefoot for a long distance even at times when the ground is burning with heat, while some people including ladies cover a certain distance to the temple by lying down, marking the distance covered by their body and doing it till they reach their destination. And there are many similar activities which I haven’t figured out myself. Lakhs of people gather here once a year which is around ‘Holi’, another big festival of colours in India.
Out of the few times I went, I was able to take some good shots only once. The climate is quite harsh here most of the time when people in good number gather. And when the crowds gather in huge number it is difficult to process things as there is a a lot going on, sellers play loud music to attract customers, the official announcement from the temple itself is too loud, people are eating everywhere and you does not even have space to walk. There is too much colours and activity going on. It is a visual blast in other words. What I find interesting is the traditional dress people wear which includes men with kurta pajama with some wearing turban over their head and women with bright coloured lehengas and odhni.
I have an outsiders perspective towards this place and that is probably why I find it more interesting. While photographing I look for people with interesting characters in their face, some humour, activities which represents their culture or life in general. There are lots of such vibrant places in India especially religious places which I would look in similar way and try to capture it.
Photographing religious places is not easy as religion is a sensitive issue. Once I tried to capture few religious leaders in the same place who were touching a woman lying on the ground with sticks in their hands, one of them saw and got angry at me and tried to break my camera. He made me delete the photos and I went home unhappy. It is very hard to figure out what you can capture and what you cannot. I don’t like to ask for permission before taking pictures because it ruins the natural moment and I am not good in making conversations. Being a local, I somewhat know how these people think. Some of them can be very rude and some of them will be very glad to have their pictures taken.
Another interesting thing which I noticed was that there are lots of business which have come around it and many are trying to make money from the inflow of crowd. Some have even used the name of the temple in front of their business name to attract customers. But it could be like that everywhere.
I will keep going to this place and learn more about the people and their culture and get good shots of course.