Posts Tagged ‘Shared Sacred Site’
The Reality Of Legends: The Sabarimala Pilgrimage And The Dance Of Faiths
The Reality Of Legends: The Sabarimala Pilgrimage And The Dance Of Faiths

I would not have believed had I not seen it with my own eyes, heard it with my own ears, and felt its power and passion within my own body and soul. But on a cold winter’s morning in the city of Erumeli while standing on a hill overlooking the Vavar mosque I saw it […]

A Dancer’s Map Of Lucknow
A Dancer's Map Of Lucknow

Jab chhorh chaley Lakhnau nagari, Kaho haal adam par kya guzeri… (When we left our beloved Lucknow, See what befell us..) Wajid Ali Shah Its [British colonial education] cumulative effect was to be described…as nothing short of a chasm that…made it impossible for the new generation of the educated and the older generation of the […]

William Dalrymple Attends The Sabarimala Or How I Began To Worry That My Sabarimala Essay Will Not Be Good Enough
William Dalrymple Attends The Sabarimala Or How I Began To Worry That My Sabarimala Essay Will Not Be Good Enough

William Dalrymple has published a piece in The Guardian newspaper on the Sabarimala pilgrimage. This was the very pilgrimage I recently traveled to witness and wrote about in a Project Update post called Where Muslims Warriors Defend & Protest Hindu Gods. His essay arrives a few days ahead of my own. I am however posting […]

The Omnipresent Baba, January 22nd 2010
The Omnipresent Baba, January 22nd 2010

Baba Farid’s reputation and influence spreads from the regions of Punjab all the way down to the Southern tips of Tamil Nadu. I visited his main shrine in Pakpattan in what is now Pakistan while pursuing the story of one of the Mumbai attackers Ajmal Kasab Kasab ironically comes from the land of the people […]

The Trinity Of The Gods, January 14th 2010
The Trinity Of The Gods, January 14th 2010

The Chandanakudam festival will not begin until December of this year, but I am heading to the small town of Changanacherry because it is site of this unique event. The festival is the only known event where Hindus, Muslims and Christians celebrate and perform the festival rituals together, and explicitly take offerings to and receiving […]

Where Muslim Warriors Defend & Protect Hindu Gods, January 10th 2010
Where Muslim Warriors Defend & Protect Hindu Gods, January 10th 2010

It is perhaps one of the more unique Hindu pilgrimages in India. Its circuit takes the pilgrims through the domains of two Muslim men – a saint and a warrior, who are considered companions and protectors of the deity Ayyappa. The shrine to Ayyappa lies at the top of a mountain in Sabarimala, but the […]

The Search For The Bent Cross, January 7th 2010
The Search For The Bent Cross, January 7th 2010

I am searching for the Chapel of the Bent Cross in Cochin’s Matancherry district. The story goes that in 1635 the Syrian Christians who had forcibly been converted to Roman Catholicism declared their return to their original faith. The Kunan Kurisu Revolt as this is known marked the final divide between the Jacobites and the […]

Believers, Blasphemers and Beggars In Ajmer, The City That Love Built And Life Sustains
Believers, Blasphemers and Beggars In Ajmer, The City That Love Built And Life Sustains

When they celebrate the death anniversary of a saint, they come in crowds from far and near to his tomb; and reaching there on the day of the ‘urs’, they perform more devotions than they do for obligatory (Islamic) rituals. To solve their worldly problems, they address their supplications to the tombs…They pray to the […]

Beyond Boundaries by Pankaj Mishra
Beyond Boundaries by Pankaj Mishra

This essay is reprinted here by kind permission of Pankaj Mishra. The original piece appeared in The National newspaper and can be seen here. Pankaj Mishra is the author of four books, most recently The Temptations of the West: How to be Modern in India, Pakistan, Tibet and Beyond. But it was perhaps his writings […]

Still Looking For Answers In Ayodhya / Liberhan Report Published
Still Looking For Answers In Ayodhya / Liberhan Report Published

What is happening in India is a new, historical awakening…Today, it seems to me that Indians are becoming alive to their history…Only now are the people beginning to understand that there has been a great vandalising of India…What is happening in India is a mighty creative process…the sense of history that the Hindus are now […]

The Rose Of Ajmer by Britt Sloan
The Rose Of Ajmer by Britt Sloan

Introduction: His life has been draped with legends, many of which tell of his miracles and powers. One of the most popular legends is of the evil wizard Jaypal who, on the orders of a local raja, attempts to drive the Sufi fakir Moinuddin Chiti away from the region and attacks him with burning coals. […]

Deconstructing Kashmir-Part III: In The Silences Of A Blood Soaked Frontier, The Still Living Songs Of The Saints
Deconstructing Kashmir-Part III: In The Silences Of A Blood Soaked Frontier, The Still Living Songs Of The Saints

When the neighborhood was attacked, some members of the minority community were killed. The survivors fled. A couple however sought refuge in the cellar of their own house. For two days and nights they waited in vain for the assailants. Two more days passed. They were much less afraid of death. They longed for food […]

The Saints of Ayodhya: Sufis In The Hindu City
The Saints of Ayodhya: Sufis In The Hindu City

The Sufi dargahs of Ayodhya are easy to miss. Not only are they rather simple structures, often no more than a few graves surrounded by a some stones to demarcate an area of worship, but are obscured by the many dominating and magnificent mandirs that define the landscape of the city itself. So it was […]

A Mosque Too Far: Rusafa On The Barbarian Plain
A Mosque Too Far: Rusafa On The Barbarian Plain

The first time I saw the image I did not realize that it would significantly change the way I looked at the world around me. It was a drawing of an 8th century shrine to a Christian saint somewhere deep in the Syrian steppe, then known by the Greek speaking world as ‘The Barbarian Plain’. […]

The Persistence of Ayodhya: Wounds & Resistance
The Persistence of Ayodhya: Wounds & Resistance

I was asked to remain confined to my room.  The men from Indian intelligence were polite but firm, and as they questioned me in a small tea shop in a neighborhood adjacent to where the Babri mosque once stood, I could see that they were unsure about what precisely it was that I represented. I […]

Dialog Between Bigots (Part I of VI)
Dialog Between Bigots (Part I of VI)

A few months ago I was asked by an editor in Europe to speak about my work, in particular my work in the Arab world.  She had seen some of my photographs from Northern Iraq that focused on the struggle of Iraq’s Assyrian Christian community as it confronted a resurgent Kurdish nationalism and a raging […]

Dialog Between Bigots (Part II of VI)
Dialog Between Bigots (Part II of VI)

EDITOR: In your opinion, is it possible for Islamic states to adopt secular systems of government, and to allow non-Muslim minorities to integrate in Muslim dominated political structures? Put another way, given the history and tradition of these areas, Iraq in particular, did the Americans have any choice other than to work with sectarian structures? […]

Dialog Between Bigots (Part III of VI)
Dialog Between Bigots (Part III of VI)

EDITOR:  By Islamic states I mean the countries that are majority Muslim and whose power structures are in the hands of Muslims. Iraq is not an Islamic theocracy, but it is surely an Islamic state. It’s history, tradition and values are shaped by Islamic religion and culture. Let us narrow the discussion. Let’s focus on […]

Dialog Between Bigots (Part IV of VI)
Dialog Between Bigots (Part IV of VI)

EDITOR: Whereas I agree with you that there is nothing inherently ‘Islamic’ about laws in many nations i.e. your statement is prima facie true. However, the question is what is the source of the common law of the land in Pakistan, in Iran, In Saudi Arabia? You will, of course, find examples of secular law […]

Dialog Between Bigots (Part V of VI)
Dialog Between Bigots (Part V of VI)

AR: I think you are being very liberal in your belief that European law begins with the Bible and that Islamic law begins with the Koran. To claim that Europe takes from the Bible and Morocco from the Koran is to indulge in a terrible simplicity that can only be achieved by suspending genuine intellectual […]

Dialog Between Bigots (Part VI of VI)
Dialog Between Bigots (Part VI of VI)

EDITOR: Spanish, French Portuguese and Italian derive from Latin, yet can one argue that today these are the same language? They have diverged to the point where they are mutually unintelligible and hence different languages. All Indo-European languages derive from Sanskrit (including Farsi), yet can one claim they are the same as Sanskrit? Christianity, Judaism […]