Street Shrines of India

January 22, 2011

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.

Mumbai august 27th 310 s-2


Santacruz East, Mumbai

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:

Colorful shrines.  From Goa – naturally!

Note the device created especially to hang the worship bell!

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.

tree shrines

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!

lamps of worship

Coin offerings

On the banks of Brahmaputra river

Gauhati

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!

RECENT ADDITIONS:


Swayambhunath, Nepal

Kathmandu outskirts

Betim, Goa

On the way to Nathu la pass, Sikkim

On the way to Tashiding, West Sikkim

At Tashiding, Sikkim

A shrine in Goa at the lighthouse along the river Mandovi:

Note the temple bells …. the threat of theft has led to the building of a protective  ‘cage’

More as and when I find them…

May 2011:

More images from my iPhone:

Near Madhu Park, Bombay – note the numerous bells offered in worship by devotees – an extremely popular street shrine

A paddy field in Goaenshrining two ‘lingam’ stones that were probably found here

In a village paddy field in Goa in Kadamba style


at the extremely busy Patto bridge in Panaji, Goa

More from Ladakh

on the way to shey palace

nubra valley

18000 ft above sea level at Khardungla pass


nubra valley

nubra valley

Additions – Jan 2013 : Orissa IMG_2873

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Jan 2016: One in Singapore

 

 

Read a related article on ‘The Travelling godmen of India’ here.

 

jm

Jan 2011

 

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