Tuesday, 22 February 2011

My Work: Flower Girl At Ahmed Shah Dargah

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Near Ahmedabad's main mosque, Jama Masjid, is the tomb of Sultan Ahmed Shah I (1411-1442), the founder of the city, who was a sultan of Gujarat's ruling Muzaffarid dynasty. The tomb is revered by Sufis and Hindus alike, who visit the shrine to pay their respects, and to offer "prasad" in his memory.

The above photograph made during my In Search of Sufis of Gujarat Photo-Expedition  is of a flower girl who, along with a number of family members, sells flowers and offerings such as coconut flesh to the supplicants who visit the shrine every day.

She probably lives in one of the hovels amongst the graves of erstwhile Muslim royals of Ahmedabad which dot the area around the shrine, coming here to sell her wares for a pittance.  Not only did I think that this young woman was attractive, but she also had a great deal of femininity, poise and an innate elegance within her,  so I asked if I could spend a few moments photographing her in her environment. She readily agreed, as I had previously given her sister a print of the photograph I had made of her last year, and I had gained her trust.

Prasad is an offering of sorts (usually edible) to a deity or a saint, in Hinduism...and yet, the same offerings are used by Muslim and non-Muslims alike when visiting the shrine of Ahmed Shah. One of the numerous examples of syncretic traditions still existing in India.