City Faith – Private Temple, East Delhi
Relationship with gods.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
In the course of her lifetime, Vimla Rani has accumulated all manner of precious possessions. Dozens of saris, hundreds of bangles and—a miniature temple, and a very simple one at that.
“It’s my most precious belonging,” says the 60-year-old, pointing to the exquisite wooden temple fitted into a niche in her husband’s study.
Too shy to be photographed, she does agree to show her mandir, “made by a carpenter when my husband was in government service.” Now long retired, “he prays for a few minutes every morning in front of our mandir.”
The temple features miniature brass statues of Ram and Sita, Durga and Krishna along with many other deities in the Hindu pantheon. “I regularly clean the murtis (idols) with lemon wedges,” she says.
The temple’s other valuables include two decades-old copies of Ramcharitmanas epic.
Focusing her gaze towards the gods, Ms Rani remarks that her “well-settled in life” children, too, are god-fearing. “But they’re not into prayers like my husband and I. They don’t even have a small corner in their homes to keep at least one murti.” There is only a little disappointment in her voice as she says this.
Visitors to the household in east Delhi don’t get a chance to view the mandir except once a year when she hosts a mata ki chowki. During that time, the little temple is placed in the drawing room for all to worship.
A mandir of her own