15th June 2012
Today the Palkhi has passed by Sholapur Road. Lakhs ( Hundred Thousand) of people passed by enroute Saswad to reach their final destination Pandharpur.
Saint Dnyaneshwar and Saint Tukaram whose idols and foot prints on palanquins are followed by these large drones of bhakts (devotees) are two extremely prominent saints of the 13th and 17th century in Maharashtra. They played a key role in translating the verse of the Bhagwat Gita a seminal religious text into more popularised versions. This was a revolutionary act in those days, because the religious power was in the hands of the preist (Brahman) class. Owing to the validity of the caste system in those days, this power was highly abused.
Therefore, Palkhi festival is an event for the common man. Not for the elite, or those high up in the hierarchy. In this installation, I have tried hard to respect those very rules. When it comes to photography, I have noticed that only those who have had access to expensive cameras can indulge in photography (Untill of late with the emergence of cell phone cameras etc). In the case of photographing those who do not have access to a computer and other forms of quick and easy 'developed' forms of communication, sending copies is quite a task. So I wondered, why should me and my socio economic class only be privy to this gorgeous image, made by a stance as powerful as the one seen here by this mauli? Why can't all of those who can appreciate this man's spirit captured within this frame have access to this image? Therefore, as a dialog with the philosophies of Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar, this installation was created. The people seen walking in the crowd are the people of rural India, most of them farmers, who live on extremely meager incomes, the underdogs of the unfair economic structure of this beautiful country that; ironically enough, are the greatest preservers of our ancient culture. Unlike us 'developed' urban people who are losing themselves in modernity
Today, my effort to meet this man via this poster was in vain. We did not cross paths, but I do wonder, if he saw this poster, or was he walking onwards, his attention dedicated to his song and his mind concentrated on his walk? Maybe he saw the photograph, but I was not present underneath it at that time, busy capturing the crowd with my camera. Was this poster visible enough? Should it have been larger? Should I have placed it in another place? Are the questions streaming through my mind.
My answer and hope in the event of all these queries is, if he truly is a spiritual man, I guess he knows already, and may have glanced and understood what is happening here.
That is the magic of media, which others only exploit for commercial value. That this photograph carries within it an essence of intent. This large frame encloses within it the spirit of reason. This ink emanates the emotions of its creator. And this gesture is laden with a message which for all is subjective, but for the one, it is received and understood. Hopefully.
As for this silent communication between two disparate souls, it will be a mystery till this project is over what will be the end result of this exercise.
Cie la vie