Bioscope of a peculiar desert town.
Pushkar is a beautiful oddity of a town in the midst of Rajasthan’s sandy hill tracts. An oasis that presents itself as a vibrant micro-portrait of India’s maddeningly diverse soul, Pushkar is a standing validation of the Indian civilisation’s innate ability to assimilate and acknowledge alien cultures.
A bustling Hindu pilgrimage town, most popularly and to an extent, rigorously associated with the Brahmanical tradition, Pushkar is one of the very few places in India where the paternal deity of Brahma, held as the Creator and Father of the Universe (Vishwapita), is enshrined and worshipped by devotees at large. The central Pushkar Lake is believed to have been churned out by Brahma himself when he dropped a lotus petal. A separate legend attributes its creation to a certain mythical bird dropping a ‘seed of immortality’ on the very spot where the dreamy lake rests quaintly today. Pushkar is a melting pot of many such legends, and the concoction does smell rancid but delicious.
Pushkar is also one of the oldest hippie stopovers in India, and represents the country’s age-old association with the global counterculture. An evening at one of the town’s many conspicuously placed cafés can be hyperventilating to the visual-auditory senses, which would, I’m confident, only barely manage to make sense of the absurd but strangely soothing intermingling between ‘native’ and ‘foreign’ sounds.
I visited Pushkar during the Hindu festival of Navratra (‘nine nights’) that celebrates the triumph of divine goodness over mortal evil for nine nights. The town seemed to be under a continuous trance of religious revelry and pomp, that very theatrically, slipped into sync with the slow downtempo rhythm-and-beat cycle of Israeli and Italian travellers performing to themselves in rooftop cafés and marbled bays of the Ghats.
Conspicuously placed high above the overpowering din of loudspeakers blaring devotional songs in commercialised formats or serving as mouthpieces of elaborately-dressed actors re-enacting the Ramayana on little makeshift stages, these cafés most aptly signify the momentary spiritual, sensory, and material detachment that Pushkar so generously and artfully offers.
A place so heavy in character demands nothing but direct experiential understanding. Nevertheless, through this phone Photo-Series, I have attempted to draw a visual panorama of my most striking visual recollections of the place. This series, however, doesn’t depict one of the most ethereal experiences of my life – the sunset at Pushkar Lake, or to conceptually contextualise it, the ‘ritualistic farewell to the yellow orb of life’.
All photographs taken on an Apple iPhone 5 and Google Moto X cellphones, and processed in Adobe Lightroom.
Pushkar | Rajasthan, India | October 2015.