Khirkee-ki-Khoj: Temple Installation

The Sai Baba temple is a landmark in Khirkee Village.
Temple Installation
Khirkee Village, New Delhi
Sunday, 30 October 2005
Aastha chauhan and Ram Bali Chauhan

The Sai Baba temple is a landmark in Khirkee Village. Head priest of the temple, Pandit Arvind Narayan Mishra and I had been in conversation for a while. He had asked us if we could make a ‘statue’ for his temple. After several discussions with the temple priest, artists Ram Bali and Aastha Chauhan finalized the installation design. In tune with the resounding temple bells, the installation envisaged was a 6 feet globe like structure made of iron, which had 450 bells of various sizes welded onto it. A pivot base enabled the structure to spin along its axis.

Khirkee-ki-Khoj: Temple Installation

Diary excerpts

The Sai Baba Mandir at in Khirkee Extension plays a significant role in the community both geographically and socially. The head priest (Pandit Arvind Narayan Mishra) is an interesting man, always ready with generous advice on life and politics.

Often in conversation he scolds me for getting over familiar with the lower class and teaching their children. He maintains that ‘they’ are an incorrigible bunch. He once asked if I would make a ‘statue’ for the temple. Ram and I brainstormed on interesting welded forms for this task. The sculpture is a welded metal structure that has a number of bells strung on it. The globe like structure rests on a ball bearing that revolves. Pushing the globe sets it on a spin, filling the temple with a cacophony of bells.

The scupture was installed by the priest with much fanfare. We had decided to get it installed the following day, but the priest took it upon himself and said that we had been gracious enough to make it; now he would personally oversee its cementing and display. They called all the members of the temple trust and started discussing where and how they should display the sculpture. They decided they wanted to add lights to the work and fix an electric mechanism that would make the globe revolve on its own. We have left it to them to figure out just where and how they want it placed. All the same the sculpture has created quiet a buzz.

Aastha Chauhan

31st Oct 2005

Every time I drop by the temple, especially since we gave them a sculpture for the courtyard, pandit arvind will sit me down and chat.. about random things. When am I getting married? If my father can get his son a job?, So on and so forth… he told me that the regular devotes who visit the temple, circumambulate the sculpture before entering the temple. They have made it a ritual he said. It is significant for me that the sculpture has acquired a place of its own within the lives of the devotees.

Meanwhile pandit mishra has his own theory and understanding of the installation that he freely dispenses to the curious. ‘ the globe is representative of the world, and we are the bells strung on, ..spinning with the shear force of mother earth that sustains us.’.

…..i like that.

Aastha Chauhan