I was inspired to shoot this after seeing a photo exhibition of the Nag Panchami festival shot by photo journo Nitin Sonawane at Battis Shirala , Nitin was the lamp of light that shed its life on my soul, I personally have nothing against photo journalists , they are the need of the hour , they show us a world we would have never seen , my teacher was Shreekant Malushte Anil Bhartiya both photo journalists too.
What really hit me was the pompous attitude of the few I met at various photo shoots at one time I was everywhere including the train serial blasts that I shot barefeet on the tracks of Bandra Mahim and Matunga, ,
Their conceit their arrogance their heavy duty cameras man I saw it all, and at the end of the day , they might have got a picture published , but I in sheer humility barefeet had already posted on the internet an eternity on the same subject.
I have no problem in reiterating I learnt grass root photography from pictures I saw on Times of India the only paper we subscribe to along with Mumbai Mirror , I kept evolving myself ..I became poetic I began poetizing what I shot and my pictures became a poetry of Life..I am an ordinary point and shoot photographer but I shoot poetry not pictures..
Some of the pictures I see on Times of India make me groan and almost puke, the journos a few of them are still where they are , no makeover no further involvement..into the soul of what they shoot.Bam Wham Fuck you Maam kind of pictures soiling the seminal soul of poetry.
One thing I am sure my grand daughter Marziya 2 year old who is learning street photography from me will one day shoot better pictures than them... perhaps better than me and my Gurus too.. she is beyond Fuck F stops and other shit that I was made to suck along with the dick of the old fathers of photography ..
When I shot the snake festival it was banned in Battis Shirala I came barefeet15 km at a place called Suryagaon and was warned only to take a few shots, I took a few on slide an analogue camera..
I was a whisker away from the cobra and more interesting than this puja is the time they return the snake back to its natural surroundings , they asked me to join them but my feet was badly cut up, I had a broken hand and a lot of equipment on my person.. and I had to return to Mumbai.
So this was my tryst with photography..
Nāga Panchamī (Sanskrit: नाग पंचमी) is a Hindu festival celebrated by Hindus in most parts of India. It is celebrated on Panchami in Shravan month. On this day, people worship Nāga Devata (Cobras). People go to temples and snake pits and worship the snakes. They offer milk and silver jewelry to the Cobras to protect them from all evils. They also fast. This festival is to celebrate the day Lord Krishna defeated the serpent Kalia. On this day swings are put up in the village and people enjoy themselves. The married girls visit their parents during this occasion.
The festival of Nāga Panchami is celebrated by Hindus to pay respect to Nāgas. The five Nāgas worshipped on Nag Panchami are Ananta, Vāsuki, Taxak, Karkotaka and Pingala. According to a Puranic myth Brahma’s son Kashyapa had four wives. Kashyapa’s first wife gave birth to Devas, second to Garudas, third to Nāgas and fourth to Daityas. (Dainik Jagran, 25 July 2006). The third wife of Kashpa was called Kadroo, who gave birth to Nāgas. So Nāgas are also known as Kadroojā. They were the rulers of Pātāl-Loka. There is a Sanskrit shloka to remember important nine Nāgas as under: (Dainik Bhaskar 30 July 2006)
अनन्तं वासुकिं शेषं पद्मनाभं च कम्बलम् । Anantam Vāsukim Shesham Padmanābham cha Kambalam
शंखपालं धार्तराष्ट्रं तक्षकं कालियं तथा ।। Shankhapālam Dhārtarāshtram Taxakam Kāliyam tathā
एतानि नवनामानि च महात्मनाम् । Etāni navanāmāni cha mahātmanām
Naga Panchami is also celebrated in Nepal and the story is a little different than in India. Naga Panchami is a festival that is held in Nepal and literally translated means the “Festival of Snakes”. It is a festival that originates from deep within the Nepali culture and its rich traditions, rituals and myths that have survived for thousands of years and which have played a significant role in the lives of the ancient people of Nepal.
Ancient Nepalese civilizations worshiped the Nagas, or Serpent Kings, and believed that their relationship with the gods and nature would secure their survival. The myths and legends surrounding the Nagas have a few versions of the story that led to a creation of the festival. In one story version, it is said that the Kathmandu Valley used to be a vast lake. As the story goes, when humans started to drain the lake to make space for villages and settlements the Nagas became enraged. To protect themselves against the wrath of the Serpent Kings, the humans gave the Nagas certain areas as pilgrimage destinations and that through these actions harmony was restored to nature.
Another popular tale is one of a Tantric King that used the powers he possessed to force the Nagas to return the rain to the land which they had taken away. The Nagas did give in to the King’s amazing powers, but he also recognized their powers. To honor the power of the Nagas, the King created the Naga Panchami festival to honor the Gods. As the serpents were believed to be capable of controlling the rains, it is important to the people of Nepal to show their respect during the festival to insure that they do not offend the Gods.
The festival usually takes place in the month of August and as part of the celebration, residents post pictures of serpents above the doors to their home to ward off the evil spirits. Prayers are said during the festival while people wearing demon masks, dance in the streets entertaining festival participants. It is also believed that offerings should be given to the Serpent Kings during the festival and residents leave food items such as milk and honey in their gardens for the Nagas, or snakes. The offerings and prayers are then honored by the Serpent Kings by ensuring rain and protection for the people of Nepal.
Naga Panchami is an ancient tradition and festival, that is a truly amazing ritual to experience and the perfect time to hear the various stories, myths and legends that have been passed down to Nepal’s present generation. |}
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I shot the King Cobra at Suryagaon quite a long distance away from Battis Shirala Sangli district once world famous for the snake festival , the ritual was banned elsewhere in Battis Shirala I was allowed to shoot a few frames I shot on slide , and this was one memorable shoot of my life .. most of the King Cobras are bought from the forests of Karnataka and after Nag Panchami they are again released back at the same place from where they were captured ..
text from net
Hinduism as a religion is many-sided yet bound by a common search for Truth and to Hindus it means a way of life and a fellowship of faiths. With the advent of the Aryans, it originated as a simple form of worship of the forces of Nature, drawing in its system action in social organisations, local cults, deities’ diverse beliefs and modes of worship.
Nag-Panchami is an important all-India festival and is celebrated on the fifth day of the moonlit-fortnight in the month of Shravan (July /August). This is the time when serpents invariably come out of their holes that get inundated with rain-water to seek shelter in gardens and many times in houses. As such they pose a great danger to man.
May be therefnag_panchami.jpgore, snakes are worshiped on this day. Right from the times when mankind started acquiring some sort of culture, Sun and Snake have been invoked with prayers and ritual worship in most of the countries. In India even before the Vedic times, the tradition of snake-worship was in vogue.
In ancient India, there lived a clan by the name of "NAGAS" whose culture was highly developed. The Indus Valley civilisation of 3000 B.C. gives ample proof of the popularity of snake-worship amongst the Nagas, whose culture was fairly wide-spread in India even before the Aryans came. After the Naga culture got incorporated into Hinduism, the Indo-Aryans themselves accepted many of the snake deities of the Nagas in their pantheon and some of them even enjoyed a pride of place in the Puranic Hinduism.
The prominent Cobra snakes mentioned in the Puranas are Anant, Vasuki, Shesh, Padma, Kanwal, Karkotak, Kalia, Aswatar, Takshak, Sankhpal, Dhritarashtra and Pingal. Some historians state that these were not snakes but Naga Kings of various regions with immerse power.
The thousand-headed Shesh Nag who symbolises Eternity is the couch of Lord Vishnu. It is on this couch that the Lord reclines between the time of the dissolution of one Universe and creation of another. Hindus believe in the immortality of the snake because of its habit of sloughing its skin. As such Eternity in Hinduism is often represented by a serpent eating its own tail.
In Jainism and Buddhism snake is regarded as sacred having divine qualities. It is believed that a Cobra snake saved the life of Buddha and another protected the Jain Muni Parshwanath. To-day as an evidence of this belief, we find a huge serpent carved above the head of the statue of Muni Parshwanath. In medieval India figures of snakes were carved or painted on the walls of many Hindu temples. In the carves at Ajanta images of the rituals of snake worship are found. Kautilya, in his "Arthashastra" has given detailed description of the cobra snakes.
Fascinating, frightening, sleek and virtually death-less, the cobra snake has always held a peculiar charm of its own since the time when man and snake confronted each other. As the cobra unfolded its qualities, extra-ordinary legends grew around it enveloping it in the garble of divinity. Most of these legends are in relation with Lord Vishnu, Shiv and Subramanyam.
The most popular legend is about Lord Krishna when he was just a young boy. When playing the game of throwing the ball with his cowherd friends, the legend goes to tell how the ball fell into Yamuna River and how Krishna vanquished Kalia Serpent and saved the people from drinking the poisonous water by forcing Kalia to go away.
It is an age-old religious belief that serpents are loved and blessed by Lord Shiv. May be therefore, he always wears them as ornamentation around his neck. Most of the festivals that fall in the month of Shravan are celebrated in honour of Lord Shiv, whose blessings are sought by devotees, and along with the Lord, snakes are also worshiped. Particularly on the Nag-Panchami day live cobras or their pictures are revered and religious rights are performed to seek their good will. To seek immunity from snake bites, they are bathed with milk, haldi-kumkum is sprinkled on their heads and milk and rice are offered as "naivedya". The Brahmin who is called to do the religious ritual is given "dakshina" in silver or gold coins some times, even a cow is given away as gift.
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By The Powers Of Lord Shiva!
Part 1: The Fascinating Deity
Shiva is ‘Shakti’, Shiva is power, Shiva is the destroyer, the most powerful god of the Hindu pantheon and one of the godheads in the Hindu Trinity. Known by many names - Mahadeva, Mahayogi, Pashupati, Nataraja, Bhairava, Vishwanath, Bhava, Bhole Nath - Lord Shiva is perhaps the most complex of Hindu deities. Hindus recognise this by putting his shrine in the temple separate from those of other deities.
Shiva As Phallic Symbol
Shiva, in temples is usually found as a phallic symbol of the linga, which represents the energies necessary for life on both the microcosmic and the macrocosmic levels, that is, the world in which we live and the world which constitutes the whole of the universe. In a Shaivite temple, the linga is placed in the centre underneath the spire, where it symbolises the naval of the earth.
A Different Deity
The actual image of Shiva is also distinct from other deities: his hair piled high on the top of his head, with a crescent tucked into it and the river Ganges tumbling from his hairs. Around his neck is a coiled serpent representing Kundalini or the spiritual energy within life. He holds a trident in his left hand in which is bound the ‘damroo’ (small leather drum). He sits on a tiger skin and on his right is a water pot. He wears the ‘Rudraksha’ beads and his whole body is smeared with ash.
The Destructive Force
Shiva is believed to be at the core of the centrifugal force of the universe, because of his responsibility for death and destruction. Unlike the godhead Brahma, the Creator, Shiva is the dissolving force in life. But Shiva dissolves in order to create, since death is the medium for rebirth into a new life. So the opposites of life and death and creation and destruction both reside in his character.
The Most Fascinating of Gods
He is also often portrayed as the supreme ascetic with a passive and composed disposition. Sometimes he is depicted riding a bull called Nandi decked in garlands. Although a very complicated deity, Shiva is one of the most fascinating of Hindu gods.
The God Who’s Always High!
Since Shiva is regarded as a mighty destructive power, to numb his negative potentials he is fed with opium and is also termed as Bhole Shankar, one who is oblivious of the world. Therefore, on Maha Shivratri, the night of Shiva worship, devotees, especially the menfolk, prepare an intoxicating drink called Thandai (made from cannabis, almonds, and milk) sing songs in praise of the Lord and dance to the rhythm of the drums.
By The Powers Of Lord Shiva! Part 2: Maha Shivratri: The Night of Shiva
Maha Shivratri, the night of the worship of Shiva, occurs on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the month of Phalguna. It falls on a moonless February night, when Hindus offer special prayer to the lord of destruction. Shivratri (Sanskrit ‘ratri’ = night) is the night when he is said to have performed the Tandava Nritya or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. The festival is observed for one day and one night only.
Origin Of Shivratri
According to the Puranas, during the great mythical churning of the ocean called Samudra Manthan, a pot of poison emerged from the ocean. The gods and the demons were terrified as it could destroy the entire world. When they ran to Shiva for help, he in order to protect the world, drank the deadly poison but held it in his throat instead of swallowing it. This turned his throat blue, and since then he came to be known as Nilkantha, the blue-throated one. Shivratri celebrates this event by which Shiva saved the world.
A Festival Especially For Women
Shivratri is considered especially auspicious for women. Married women pray for the well being of their husbands and sons, while unmarried women pray for an ideal husband like Shiva, who is the spouse of Kali, Parvati and Durga. But generally it is believed that anyone who utters the name of Shiva during Shivratri with pure devotion is freed from all sins. He or she reaches the abode of Shiva and is liberated from the cycle of birth and death.
On the day of Shivratri, a three-tiered platform is built around a fire. The topmost plank represents swargaloka (heaven), the middle one antarikshaloka (space) and the bottom one bhuloka (earth). Eleven urns or kalash, are kept on the swargaloka plank symbolising the eleven manifestations of the Rudra Shiva. These are decorated with bilva (woodapple leaves) and mango leaves atop a coconut representing the head of Shiva. The uncut shank of the coconut symbolises his tangled hair and the three spots on the fruit Shiva’s three eyes.
Bathing The Phallus
The phallus symbol representing Shiva is called the lingam. It is usually made of granite, soapstone, quartz, marble or metal, and has a yoni or vagina as its base representing the union of the male and female sexual organs. Devotees circumambulate the lingam and worship it throughout the night. It is bathed every three hours with the five sacred offerings of a cow, called the panchagavya - milk, sour milk, urine, butter and dung. Then the five foods of immortality - milk, clarified butter, curd, honey and sugar are placed before the lingam. Dhatura and jati, though poisonous fruits, are believed to be sacred to Shiva and thus offered to him.
“Om Namah Shivaya!”
All through the day the devotees keep severe fast, chant the sacred Panchakshara mantra “Om Namah Shivaya”, make offerings of flowers and incense to the Lord amidst ringing of temple bells. They maintain long vigils during the night, keeping awake to listen to stories, hymns and songs. The fast is broken only the next morning, after the nightlong worship. In Kashmir, the festival is held for 15 days. The 13th day is observed as a day of fast followed by a family feast
This Lord Shiva statue too was roughly made by the Naaga Sadhu at Vasai Fort, he has a lot of land in his possession, in the front is this make shift Mandir with the statues, at the back is his residence in the form of a cottage, there is a family living with him, I do not ask unwarranted questions, I am here to shoot pictures weave a story keeping the facts in mind.
Usurping of forest land is common feature at the National Park, where the Naaga Sadhu have made their Mutts, Ashrams, here too you can smoke hash or ganja without of any fear, and by paying a donation you can hang around and drink in the scenic beauty, eat bhojan, like prasadam, get away from the urban headaches.
And most of these these Ashrams are patronised by the politicos the local Mafia don,, so they are flourishing without fear of ever being Demolished.
Some yeas back quite a few had been demolished, I had come here with a mountain climbing group called Pinnacle, I became a member, went with them to Raigad Fort shot pictures of their rappeling had the pleasure of meeting the living scion of Shri Chattrapati Maharaj, His Highness Shri Sambhaji Chattrapati, a young , dashing dynamic adventurer who resides at the New Palace Kolhapur, I took his pictures with the mountains in the background, shook his royal hands, sent him the pictures , he was so impressed that I had not forgotten him, he sent me a letter inviting me to his palace if I ever visit Kolhapur.Such is Hospitality, such is the Heritage of a Giant of a Ruler who shook the Might of the Moghuls, the English..
Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
Every year I sent this royal personality a New Years Greetings Card.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1627-1680)
Shivaji was born of a Maratha family in 1627 A.D. His father was a chief of the kingdom of Bijapur. Though he was high up, he was not allowed to control any fort. In his early youth, Shivaji inspired the local peasant youths around Poona to follow him in his idealistic pursuits.
In his early, his band attacked the mountain fort of Torna about twenty miles from Poona. He took control from the fort as Governor. It was characteristic of him immediately send a word to the King of Bijapur, that he had done purely in the king’s interest as the ex-governor was not given all the revenue due to the king. This brought more time, and Shivaji used this technique of cunningness to conquer more and more such forts. The king eventually ordered Shivaji to stop these activities. But Shivaji knew that by now the whole region was behind him and thus ignored any warnings from the King of Bijapur.
The King then sent a small army under Afzal Khan to catch him dead or alive. Shivaji now portrayed even more cunning techniques. He pretended to be extremely afraid of Afzal Khan and his army, and offered to surrender personally to him provided his well-being was guaranteed. He suggested that he should be accompanied by two unarmed followers to meet Afzal Khan and two of his guards personally. This was agreed to. When the meeting took place, Afzal Khan (a big, stocky and giant of a figure, compared to short and agile figure of Shivaji) tried to kill Shivaji with a big embrace and stab at Shivaji. Shivaji was however prepared with a short knife under his palm. With a swift action, he slayed the giant.
When the ruler in Delhi heard of this he sent his general Shaista Khan to suppress this uprising which was gaining momentum at great speed. Shivaji had to abandon temporarily the plains to a much more powerful Moghul army. With the help of the locals, he could enter into the living quarters of the general with his followers and created chaos. He had caused irreversible injury to the generals’ body and pride, so much so that he was recalled to Delhi.
Due to requirement of maintaining a large army, Shivaji felt the need of finance. His next crusade was to loot the Mughal city of Surat, which was the centre of the rich, traders from all over. He is likened here to Robin Hood here. No injury to women, children of elderly was ever caused. This wealth gave Shivaji sufficient wherewithal to continue his crusade.
This time the Mughal emperor sent a vast army under its senior general, Jai Singh. After a few skirmishes Shivaji thought it prudent nominally to accept the emperor’s sovereignty and offered to come to court itself to pay homage. The trick worked and his army remained intact. He proceeded to Agra to present himself at the mughal court. However the perfidious emperor arrested him. As is well known, Shivaji tricked his jailors and escaped. By the time he returned to Poona, his army was in good condition. This was his opportunity to give a crushing defeat to the retreating armies.
Shivaji drew strength from the guidance of his guru, Guru Ramdas who together with mata Jijabai in his young life, made him a national hero.
Now Shivaji had an unquestioned sway over a big area. Fort Raigad was to become the centre of power and prowess. During the coronation ceremony he gave magnificent gifts to holy men and the poor. He died after three years. His son could not amass sufficient strength to finish the work of liberation throughout Bharat. Nevertheless, Shivaji had laid the foundation of a great Hindu empire which lasted for two centuries
Timeline of Shivaji Maharaj
April 6th, 2007
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This was shot at GPO Ganpati Pandal...
As you exit the Pandal you are greeted by the bust of our great Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj..
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj (1627-1680
He founded the Hindu kingdom in the Deccan against all odds , fighting against the mighty Mughals.He inspired and united the common man to fight against the tyranny of Mughal ruler Aurangjeb, by inculcating a sense of pride and nationality in them. At the age of 16, he took a pledge to establish a sovereign Hindu state.He clearly outstands all the rulers and generals of India by the exemplary life he lived and is thus respected by the entire cross section of Indians. Shivaji’s military skills could be compared to those of Napolean. He raised a strong army and navy, constructed and repaired forts, used gureilla warfare tactics,developed a strong intelligence network,gave equal treatment to the people from all religions and castes based on merit, and functioned like a seasoned Statesman and General. He appointed ministers with specific functions such as Internal security,Foreign affairs,Finance,Law and Justice,Religious matters,Defence etc. He introduced systems in revenue collection and warned the officials against harassment of subjects.He thought ahead of times and was a true visionary.In his private life, his moral virtues were exceptionally high.His thoughts and deeds were inspired by the teachings of his mother Jijabai,teacher Dadaji Konddev,great saints like Dnyaneshwar & Tukaram and the valiancy and ideals of the Lords Rama and Krishna. The tiny kingdom established by Chhatrapati Shivaji known as “Hindavi Swaraja” (Sovereign Hindu state) grew and spread beyond Attock in Northwest India (now in Pakistan)and beyond Cuttack in East India in course of time, to become the strongest power in India. After the death of Chhatrapati Shivaji & his son Sambhaji, their prime ministers or ‘the Peshwas’ became the defacto rulers. The Peshwas and the Maratha Sardars (Chieftans) like Shindes of Gwalior, Gaekwads of Baroda & Holkars of Indore contributed to the growth of the Maratha Confederacy.The history of India is incomplete without the history of Marathas and Shivaji is the nucleus of Maratha history. Shivaji has been a source of inspiration and pride to the past generations and will continue to inspire generations in future. We salute this legend and humbly dedicate this website to him.
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