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Instruments of Faith

Instruments of Faithattempts to provide a narrative of peace in our country and revive the sentiments our constitution-makers tried to imbibe – to taper the majority and minority divide.

Text by Aviva Baig, Mannat Chauhan & Maheep Dhanoa

Photographs by Aviva Baig

This photo series walks us through the cultural practices and traditions followed by different religions in India. Through the photographs, we see the Nizamuddin Dargah in New Delhi and a group of O.P Jindal Global University Students merging peacefully with the everyday visitors of the Dargah. We see a grey-haired lady surrounded by young or middle-aged men worshipping their God in ‘Bhagwat ’or saffron kurta’s during the celebration of Ram Navami at the Rishikesh Ghats.

We see the rituals of the Ganga Arati that have been performed for centuries along different aspects of prayer. How some are deeply invested in prayer, some documenting the rituals on their smartphones while some singing bhajans in complete bliss.

This diversity has emerged from a set of relationships linking religion, culture, and society. During the visits, the experience impacts your chain of thought. While visiting the Ram Navami celebrations in Rishikesh in 2017 and 2019 and seeing so many familiar faces that were photographed, reminded me that many things change and move on in life but religion for most stays constant.

While visiting Ramgarh in Uttarakhand and hiking to a Devi Mandir, we stumbled upon a Pandit who lived in that mandir for 20 years. He built it himself and that reminded me that faith flows deeply in the veins of those who are willing to embrace it.

A walk through the lanes of Paharganj made the importance of religion and faith of the people evident. Similar is the feeling as one walks through the Nizamuddin Basti where the memorials, the sound of the prayers, the tall tombs and the aroma of the street food mystify you, which is why religious places provide a sense of calm for believers.

Taking all this into account and factoring in the strains that communal conflicts have put on the secular fabric of India begs us to advocate the normalcy of interconnectedness by not only just tolerating each other but welcoming the cultures and practices that each religion brings.

Youngsters today are living in a ‘post-religious era ’as the depiction of religion has been twisted and turned into something that people do not want to be associated with. India and its religions have travelled through a long journey and it would be a shame for us as a country to not see through the future of the magical fusion and coexistence of faith and reason.

Religions all Together, Faith flows Strong The Quran, a ritual coconut and a frame of Lord Ganesha Location: Pragpur, Himachal Pradesh

The light beckons, Peace beckons

The Sufi music at the Dargah attracts people from all walks and faiths of life.

Location: Nizamuddin Dargah, New Delhi

Temple Music

As devotees enter the temple to pray, they ring the temple bells to dispel evil and welcome divinity as per tradition.

Location: Ramgarh, Uttarakhand

Chaos calls to calmness

So many different stories yet their faith unites them all.

Location: Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

Sacred Fire Lights the Dark

Location: Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

To Remain Untouched

Gods from various religions come together to provide a sense of protection to the bystanders.

Location: Paharganj, New Delhi

The Magic of Monasteries

Built in 1216 A.D, Tashichho Dzong instils peace and calm in the hearts of those who visit it.

Location: Thimphu, Bhutan

Sea of Saffron

Devotees clad in ‘Bhagva’ kurtas celebrate Ram Navami.

Location: Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

The Fragrance of Prayer

The essence from the incense lamp instils peace and helps in aromatizing the surroundings.

Location: Thimphu, Bhutan

Edited by Vedangshi And Sakshi