Travelling Godmen – the Spiritual Healers of India

julio 10, 2010

Travelling Godmen are wanderers that travel from village to village, restricting themselves to a particular geographical area (usually dictated by the language).

They sell spirituality and its benefits in different forms. There is no one place in which they may be found – except the occasional religious fair – and therefore it is a matter of ‘luck’ or ‘chance’ (or of ‘luck-by-chance’ as said in the special form of indlish)to come across these travelling mendicants.

The following pictures were taken on serendipitous encounters across 5 years in India –  an idea of the rarity of finding these people.

First is a couple that belongs to a group seen in Maharashtra. The women provide the sound effects with the drum that is ‘rubbed’ by a stick (not beaten), while the men create a beat with the jhanjhars(bells) on their feet, and dance in a trance like fashion as they whip themselves with the heavy rope. They provide spiritual services through fortune telling which usually contains a good dose of negativity, but for a small fee paid in the form of faith and fanams, they offer to save your souls. Note the beautiful colours and contrast of their dress and costume !

Another two boys from a similar ‘back-whipping’ group from South India:

One more whipper

Back whipper

Back whipper

Next are two travelling godmen encountered in Goa, a place they were exploring for the first time with the aim of spreading ‘jan – jagruti’ or enlightenment among the people. They walk about in residential areas, early in the morning, with castanet-like musical instruments singing bhajans or hymns in deep captivating voices that filled up the neighbourhood with enchantment!! Their hymns are all devoted to Krishna / Vasudev and they call themselves Vasudeva Janaa, hail from the Pandharpur area, and have forsaken the ‘householder’ life to spread enlightenment. Amazing experience to be woken up by their clear beautiful singing!

Encountered next were the ladies  from Karnatka – Shaivite worshippers of Yellamma, whose portable deity they carry from village to village and receive money from people as offerings to the goddess and her son. Language, unfortunately became a barrier in finding out more about this group.

After a gap I cam across another pair of Vasudeva Jana – this time in Mumbai – 2009 – where I managed to shoot pictures of an ON-THE-ROAD counselling session.

The last set is that of the whipping boys with the women – carrying photographs instead of deities – encountered in Vile Parle in 2009.

May 2011 :The light-green eyed soothsayer from Warangal Andhra Pradesh with his grey-eyed wife set up shop near my home in Bombay. A passer-by stopped to ask his fortune and the soothsayer spent about half an hour with him. The little shop they set up included interesting items like peacock feathers, the scalp of a bear or goat, bones and roots and herbs along with red and yellow powders…. all very intriguing and curious objects brought in to create a mystic air and evoke faith in the un-understandable!

The Soothsayer counselling a passer-by

The soothsayer’s wife with the ‘tools of trade’ – herbs, roots, scalp, bones and feathers

The light eyed gypsy soothsayer from Warangal, Andhra Pradesh

This photoessay “hopefully” isn’t complete yet….am looking forward to experiencing and sharing more of these intriguing & hard-to-find groups of people …


Feb 2013


Wovensouls-Mumbai-local-trains-blog-6Asking passers-by for offerings in exchange for blessings



Read a related article on the Street Shrines of India here


The post Travelling Godmen – the Spiritual Healers of India appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.

Ver artículo completo

Sin Zapatos En El Interior

mayo 09, 2019

Los orígenes de esta suavemente-pero-estrictamente la regla en todos los Asiáticos tradicionales casas podrían ser muchos. Pero creo que la verdadera razón es el arte que se muestra en la baja...... ... Seguir leyendo

El post Sin Zapatos En El Interior apareció por primera vez en El Arte por el Blog WOVENSOULS.COM.

Ver artículo completo

Una Nota sobre Phulkari Clasificación

abril 30, 2019

Una compilación de mi jottings en Phulkaris Textiles de Punjab

El post Una Nota sobre Phulkari Clasificación apareció por primera vez en El Arte por el Blog WOVENSOULS.COM.

Ver artículo completo

Una Vieja Señora se encuentra con Otra

abril 28, 2019

La pintura se ha desgastado. Y hay un montón de nicks en la carpintería de madera, cada uno decirle a un inolvidable cuento. Las capas de pintura vieja cobertizo – capas de pintura fresca aplicada ... Seguir leyendo

El post Una Vieja Señora se encuentra con Otra apareció por primera vez en El Arte por el Blog WOVENSOULS.COM.

Ver artículo completo

Liquid error: include usage is not allowed in this context