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Khirkee-Ki-Khoj: Temple Installation

The Temple Installation project was undertaken by two artists at the Sai Baba temple, a landmark in Khirkee Village. After several discussions with the temple priest, they began working on a sculpture for the temple. The final installation was a 6 foot globe-like structure made of iron, which had 450 bells of various sizes welded onto it.

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The Sai Baba temple is a landmark in Khirkee Village. Head priest of the temple, Pandit Arvind Narayan Mishra and artist Aastha Chauhan had been in conversation for quite some time and he had asked if a statue for his temple could be made. After several discussions with the temple priest, Ram Bali and Aastha Chauhan finalised the installation design. Inspired by the ongoing temple bells, the installation envisaged was a 6 foot 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, Aastha Chauhan

The Sai Baba Mandir 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 being 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 chosen sculpture is a welded metal structure that has a number of bells strung on it. The globe like form rests on a ball bearing that revolves. Pushing the globe sends it spinning, filling the temple with a cacophony of bells.

The sculpture was installed by the priest with incredible excitement. The priest took it upon himself to install the work, he 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 discussed where and how they should install the sculpture. They decided they wanted to add lights to the work and fix an electric mechanism that would allow the globe to revolve on its own. We left the final decisions to the temple, excited simply by the response from the community.

31st Oct 2005

Every time I drop by the temple, especially since we gave them the sculpture for the courtyard, Pandit Arvind sits me down and chats 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; 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 shares with curious minds: “The globe is representative of the world and we are the bells strung on it, spinning with the sheer force of Mother Earth that sustains us.”

I like this.

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