City Faith – Temple Bells, Khan Market
Faith in commerce.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Just another evening at the Khan Market in Delhi. An important-looking man in white kurta-pajama and a black sleeveless jacket enters a luxury showroom, his gun-toting bodyguards in grey safari suits hover nearby.
In the meantime, two young men, outfitted beautifully, are walking down Front Lane chatting in English with an American accent about the lack of good cafes at their college campus in Sonepat; while one of the market’s cleaning women—Shefalee—is slowly dragging a garbage bag along the road.
At around 7pm, the temple bells suddenly resound in the market from Shri Gopal Mandir tucked away in one corner of this posh shopping destination. This is the temple’s daily aarti hour heralding the evening with a special prayer ceremony.
A priest at the temple entrance is ringing a bell over and over again as though under a spell. His face now sweating, he appears to be overcome with emotion, as though he might break into tears any moment.
A long-haired woman strolling along the market’s Middle Lane quickly crosses the road and enters the temple; the courtyard has an inviting wooden bench but she heads straight to the main prayer hall, decked with Bhagwan Krishna’s idol.
The tolls from the temple bells spread like an invisible wave across the market and beyond.
Some shoppers standing just outside turn to gaze at the temple. Others instinctively bow their heads in reverence.
Another priest now appears at the temple gate, beating his cymbals faster and faster.
But suddenly he stops—as do the tolling bells. The aarti has concluded. The ensuing silence feels strangely noisy until the fleeting sense of spirituality dissipates.
Khan Market reacquires consumerism.
You must drop by the temple to witness this daily evening magic.
For whom the bells toll