Saturday, 12 March 2011

Sandy Chandler: The Sufis of Gujarat

Photo © Sandra Chandler -All Rights Reserved

Photo © Sandra Chandler -All Rights Reserved

Photo © Sandra Chandler -All Rights Reserved
A fourth-time participant in my photo-expeditions (The Gnawa in Morocco, Tribes of Rajasthan & Gujarat, Bali Island of Odalan and in my just completed In Search of Sufis of Gujarat), Sandra Chandler is a photographer and interior designer based in San Francisco. She tells us that color, smells and sounds drew her to world travel. Her city's Asian culture first enticed her to China in 1978 when the People’s Republic first opened. She then continued her exploration of Asia by traveling to Bhutan, India, Japan, Singapore, Nepal, Thailand, Tibet, and on to South America and Europe.

She's the second participant to send me samples of her work during the photo`expedition. The top photograph was made at a the dargah of Sayid Mira Datar, a Sufi saint martyred in a battle with a Bhil warlord in the 1400s, and who's reputed to heal and exorcise evil spirits from visiting supplicants. It's of pilgrims/devotees inhaling the special sacred incense to purge tevil spirits from their bodies.

The middle photograph is of niqab-wearing Muslim women in Sarkhej at the dargah of the Sufi saint Hazrat Ghatu Ganj Ahmed Shah. I think these women are members of the Tabligh sect; an orthodox Muslim sect. As much as I tried to cajole these women (and they spoke English perfectly), they would not allow me to photograph them.

The lower photograph is a candid portrait of a sadhu; a Hindu self proclaimed holy man. It was made during a photo shoot at the foothills of Junagardh's Girnar mountain. He had probably just woken up.

Sandy also published two books ‘Carnevale, Fantasy of Venice' of her beautiful photographs of Venice and its magical Carnevale, and Calling The Soul, a collection of photographs of the intricate Balinese cremations.