This blog post was featured in the “Around the Blog” section of the DNA newspaper published on August 27, 2012 (pg.7).
That rainy day, I was at Hill Road in Bandra on a gastronomical expedition busy stuffing my face and bags with cakes, quiche, and other baked goodies. My eyes or rather nose was trailing the various aromas coming out of the many bakeries that line the road. And that’s when a flash of yellow-orange momentarily distracted me, the yellow-orange of a string of marigolds garlanding a cross.
The garlanded cross
This large cross is somewhere on Hill Road (I can’t remember the exact location). Together with the beautiful veil like green and leafy canopy, the garland really lit up the cross.
I love the way people take something and adapt it to fit their uniquely local culture, be it food, clothes, music…. The sambhaar powder added to the tamarind paste used to make bhelpuri in Chennai, kurtis teamed up with jeans, Carnatic classical music on Western instruments like the mandolin and violin…, And the way we have “Indianised” Chinese cuisine is legendary !
But what I love the most is the way this adaptation plays out in religion. Recently, on a visit to Chennai, I saw a statue of Jesus standing on a lotus with peacocks at his feet. I have heard ofaartis in churches, I have seen non-Hindus at the Sringeri and Brihadeeshwara Temples. But this was the first time I saw a cross “decorated” with a garland.
Academics call such expressions of adaptation syncretism; I call it making it our own.
Mumbai Lens is a photographic series which, as the name suggests, is Mumbai-centric and is an attempt to capture the various moods of the city through my camera lens.