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Celebrating Kali, Goddess of Time and Change, Annihilator of Evil.


A 3,000 year old temple stuck between a rock and a hard place, Kalkaji Mandir surrounded by trappings of modernity. A six-lane highway and an overhead, concrete metro line frame the tiny temple against a backdrop of an ultra-modern, rich-sect’s massive, lotus shaped, steel and concrete temple that dominates the surroundings and visitors except when it is festival time. Thousands flock from hundreds of miles to visit the shrine to Kali, happy to finally reach their holy destination, excited laughter fills the air, shouts go up followed by all replying loud, joyous retorts as the tributaries of paths funnel devotees into one single, offering selling, market stall, lined avenue to be injected into the noisy throng at the temples base. Some groups carry huge flag poles wrapped in pennants, carried on foot the whole journey, others assist ultra pious, penitents hoping their ordeal will save or heal a loved one, traveling by lying fully prostrate upon the ground rising to take a step forward only to prostrate themselves again to kiss the ground. Each pathway towards the revered building are lined with stalls selling anything holy and the not so holy, garlands of flowers as offerings hang brightly from their roofs over trays of white sweets crawling with flies next to stalls of plastic toy guns and dolls. Gypsies trawl up and down, their heads adorned with baskets of the same, cheap, plastic toys while their children run up and down or stand and stare with dark, brooding eyes at the passers-by. A visible camera attracts the gypsy children, magnetised and smiling to have their picture taken and giggle at the image they are shown as if a magical game they play, encouraging brothers and sisters to join in the intense lens staring, laughing and shouting for more. Everyone must join in the pictorial fun, mothers are coerced to pose dismissively only to join the laughter in crowded views of a little screen, the game finally ended by shooing, grizzled grandmothers with teeth too long and patience thinned bringing decorum back to their ancient families, after all they a have a living to make.


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