The fascination for the seasonal rhythm of pilgrimages that she witnessed across the country inspired author Scharada Dubey to pen the book Bol Bam Approaches to Shiva.
Exploring the many facets of Shiva, who the author says is the most egalitarian deity in the Hindu pantheon, the tome draws a lot from the writer’s past experiences apart from chronicles of her personal journey to several places in a span of 18 months.
Talking to CE on the sidelines of the book launch in the city on Monday, the Pune-based writer says, “Anyone can go on a Shiva pilgrimage without worldly baggage of any kind. For me, he has a romance and resonance of his own.”
Making inroads into the some of the most remote places, Bol Bam follows the ubiquitous pathway leading to the many forms of Shiva. It includes the ecological Shiva, him as the god for social outcasts, or even the political Shiva, exploring many aspects of living through the metaphor of Shiva.
The discovery of Shiva in many connotations also threw up several discoveries of a different kind, as the author found a few urban judgments melting away.
“I went to this place called Damoh for raat jaga (a ceremony where people stay awake all night for prayers). There I saw this person, who wears ghungroo and dances the entire night, only to the name of god for the raat jaga. He is not bothered about who is watching him. When I was confronted by pilgrims like that, all my urban sneer vanished,” she adds.
Scharada believes that though the book seems to be a subject restricted to a religion, it has a lot to offer to several categories of readers. She adds, “I anticipate young readers who question the nature of their faith to get something of value. Indian diaspora, who are choosing to connect to places and destinations across India to know the exact meaning of things, will get a lot of answers. Someone had been kind enough to say in their review that atheists can read the book because the questions are very straight: What does one believe and why does he continue to believe?”
Having begun writing in the children’s books genre, Scharada has traversed a vast space of creative pursuits and moved to more serious works in the last few years. Her recent works are The Toymakers: Light from India’s Urban Poor and Portraits from Ayodhya: Living India’s Contradictions.
However, one element that binds most of her works is the thread of non-fiction writing. “All my books are life as it is lived, and are fictionalised based on my experiences. In our country there are two types of non-fiction — highly academic tomes without popular connect and books that are inspired by a Western theme. I have tried to write about Indian conditions the Indian way. I started that with toy makers and continued it with Ayodhya. It was an evolution for someone who had begun writing in the children’s writing genre,” she adds.
Published by Westland, Bol Bam has been priced at `350.