Saturday, August 29, 2015

Granth Sahib - The Scripture for a Universal Religion

- by Aishwarya Javaglekar

The sacred book of Sikhism, known as the Guru Granth Sahib, is venerated by all Sikhs as the highest embodiment of Sikh philosophy and way of life.

At the Golden Temple in Amritsar, every evening, the Granth Sahib is carried in a procession. It is taken from its usual golden shrine (the Harmandir Sahib) to a room upstairs (Akal Takht), to rest for the night. The book is brought back early next morning.
Palkhi Sahib (procession)
The Guru Granth Sahib is a magnificent collection of religious and mystical poetry by thirty-six composers written in twenty-two languages. It incorporates the compositions of Hindu devotees, Muslim, divines and Sufi poets along with the ten Sikh gurus.
The Guru Granth Sahib - the scripture for a universal religion! (Photo credits:
The sacred verses in the Granth Sahib are called Gurbani, meaning Guru’s word. Here, guru doesn't mean a particular person. It means the wisdom of the world. Thus, the Granth Sahib isn't meant to be the word of a person. It is the wisdom of the world compiled into a single book. It includes the preachings of all religions, and is regarded as a complete, sacrosanct message from God.
Painting of Guru Arjun Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru, dictating the text of Granth Sahib. He first compiled the book in 1604. It was completed by Guru Gobind Singh in 1705. (Photo credits:
In his final address to the Sikhs in 1708, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru, said:
“Those who desire to behold the Guru should obey the Granth Sahib. Its contents are the visible body of the Guru."

Friday, August 14, 2015

Nachiyar Amman shrine in Chennai

I photographed this gorgeous idol of the folk goddess Nachiamman or Nachiyar Amman on Badrian Street in Chennai. The idol was housed in a little shrine and the flower seller women were offering their prayers to her. 

Nachiamma is one of the benevolent forms of the goddess, said to bestow good health and prosperity on her worshippers. 

I was struck by the alangaaram of the idol (decoration). She is depicted with beautiful dark eyes, with a smiling countenance. Her forehead is smeared with three lines of ash, and the auspicious red kungumam is prominently placed in the middle. Her nose-rings and round heavy olai (ear-rings) speak clearly of her folk origins.

Even though she is benevolent, her power is clearly visible in the sword, axe and trident which she holds. A halo of flames is around her head.  She is dressed in a golden silk saree, with a green border. The flower-sellers in the market have adorned her with fresh garlands.

Below this relatively new idol, there is an old black granite idol - possibly the original one that was established in this shrine. Offerings of flowers, coconuts, neem leaves and lemons have been made as per the usual practice in such goddess temples. In front of the idol is an image of the lion / tiger, which is the mount of the goddess.

I photographed this elderly flower seller as she came out of the temple after offering prayers. To me, she looked like the goddess herself, come to life.

- Photos and text by Deepa Krishnan

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Painted Havelis of Shekhawati (1)

Every once in a while, exotic cliches come alive. Peacock posing against faded wall, in the village of Mandawa.
Photo credit: Gaurav Jain, Delhi Magic
Some of India's most wealthy Marwari business families have their havelis in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan. Birla, Piramal, Dalmia, Goenka etc are known to all Indians. Today many of the havelis lie abandoned, making for a surreal walk through what must be the country's largest open-air art gallery.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Evening in the Blue City, Jodhpur

A quiet turning in the lanes of Brahmpuri. Sunset hour. Magical.
Photo credit: Deepa Krishnan