There’s a djinn that lives next to the Feroz Shah Kotla cricket stadium in Delhi. His name is Laat Waale Baba (The Pillar Saint) and he’s older than the stadium and older than the British rule. Some whisper he’s even older than the city-fort which was built by Sultan Feroz Shah Tuglaq in 1356, after whom the stadium is named. Laat Waale and his assistants, thousands of other minor djinns, live in the skeletons of the once royal city. And they live royal lives. For they get a heap of letters and coins and prayers and fruits and sweets from worshippers every week.
Come Thursday, be it sweltering hot or bone-chilling cold, hundreds of worshippers gather around the Minar-e-Zarreen, a 13.1 meter high, polished sandstone pillar that stands in the middle of the ruins. The pillar, which is believed to be the pathway for the djinn and his minor army, is surrounded by a protecting grill put up by the Archeological Survey of India who maintain the Tuglaq ruins. The worshippers stretch their arms through the grill, futilely to try and touch the pillar, their hands full of letters, photocopies and hope. After the trial to touch, they kiss the grill and tie up these letters, full of prayers. They even bring photocopies and photographs so they can post multiple letters to multiple minor djinns in case one of them is not heard. All letters are full of prayers and pleadings, asking for a wish or hoping the senior djinn or one of the minor ones will help them in matters of the heart, or marriage, of wealth or of health. Some even bring their possessed relatives for exorcism in ruined caverns with bats hanging upside down in the dampness, witnessing the thrashings and shrieks.
A worshipper whispered to me that a hundred years ago, under the British rule, these ruins were haunted by ghosts and pretas and thugs and tantrics and dogs and bats and the Pillar djinn wasn’t a saint. He turned into one post Independence when partition changed the dynamics of the capital city. That’s when, people, maddened by grief of what humans could do to other humans, left with no hope and no other saints or gods, crawled to the ruins, clutching letters of hope. They turned to djinns when they saw the worse in human nature. For they hoped that djinns, who according to Islamic mythology live for centuries and are made of smokeless fire, might know something about life and dignity that humans forget. Continue reading “The djinn-saints of Delhi”
It’s taken me a month to post this. Reason: I promised myself that I’ll finish Anantya’s second adventure before any posts on my blog. So here I am, with a finished book (yay!) and a story for you. Tantric Tales happened on the last Sunday of April. The whole team of The Beehive, a collective of creative people, organised it, taking over over the event, setting up the venue, plannning Anantya’s favourite drink soma-on-the-rocks, deciding and creating the graphics as well as the documentary which needed to be screened. It was really kind of the Beehive girls to go so much out of their way and do all of this! That’s the Beehive team below.
It was one of the funnest events I’ve done, a chilled out Sunday evening at a beautiful venue (if you haven’t checked out Humming Tree, I suggest you go. Now. Nikhil, the introvert-ish sweetheart that he is, always has something fun up his sleeve.) where friends and strangers sat on carpets, high chairs, low chairs with a beer bottle in one hand and a pen in the other. For the quiz was on. Ashwani, the quiz master of the evening kept them all inthralled. I even saw a group of people who left their burgers, ON A SUNDAY, to solve a quiz. This city will never cease to amaze me.
Then there was the fiery soma-on-the-rocks which Anantya would’ve gobbled in a second. I avoided it in case I fell into a giggly fit right before my discussion on stage.
Post the quiz, I came up on stage, chatted with people, talked about researching on tantrism. Frankly, I could’ve done a better job, selling my book, talking about it, etc, but it was a Sunday and I’d just had a high after a successful book launch in Delhi and before that in Bangalore, so I became like the crowd at Humming, relaxed. The evening ended with a circle where a lot of people shared their stories and experiences of the paranormal and supernatural. Amazing, that part.
The event was covered extensively by the kind MetroPlus at The Hindu, Jagran CityPlus and we all came on Page 3 of the Indulge of New Indian Express. Thrilling for a day, that. Leaving you with a few photographs (taken by the kind Prasad N).
Super duper excitement happened while I was in Delhi. First of all, I saw spring come alive in the city after six years. It’s fabulous, by the way, that end of winters before they crash into the searing hot summers. The city was blushing and blooming with colours all over, Fall tussling with Spring. And I can vouch for it, for was driving from one end of the city to the other, meeting people, making new friends, signing books, talking about the art and craft of writing books (knowledgeably at that!).
The end of my Delhi trip was with a formal launch of Cult of Chaos, which HarperCollins organised in association with Oxford Bookstore and QuizCraft Global. The idea was the same as the launch in Bangalore a month before: a quiz on everything paranormal and supernatural and then a discussion about Cult of Chaos. About 70 people turned up. The house was full, more were standing in the aisles, including me and it was a young bustling, energetic crowd, with a few kids. Manasi, an editor from HarperCollins introduced the book beautifully. Sidhartha, the handsome bloke from QuizCraft offered a rocking quiz to attendees. RJ Ginnie, who kindly accepted my request to do a discussion and ask me probing questions, made the talk about the book so much fun. Most of them who attended had a good time (and told me it wasn’t a boring book launch. Including a few peeps from HarperCollins). So see, heaven had been achieved.
Except it wasn’t just that. A lot of the people who turned up were from my school, college, post grad, ex-office pals and family. For me, more than a launch, it turned out to be a series of reunions with old friends, swapping notes, hugging, crying a bit. They were all there for me, proud, excited, supportive. Wow. Am touched, out of words, giddy and rather exhausted. So here’s all the madness. In photos and comments as usual.
Since I don’t really remember much of the event myself, here’s what two literature students who were there at the quiz and stayed till the end, thought about it. They interviewed me post the event and wrote for a really nice website called ReadersClubDelhi.Com. They were well prepared with a tight questionnaire, so check out the video below if you want to see me fumble and skirt difficult questions.
Oxford Bookstore CP and Harper Collins India in association with Quizcraft Global organized a quiz – Witches and Vamps : a quiz on paranormal crime on 28th March to celebrate the launch of the novel Cult of Chaos, a tantrik thriller by Shweta Taneja.
The event began at 3:20pm with an introduction by Mansi, editor at Harper Collins and was taken over by Siddharta Gopati, the quizmaster for the day. There were sixteen teams and three rounds – written, audio-visual and still image.
The questions were thrilling and the atmosphere electric. Written round included a few questions from Cult of Chaos among the other questions. Audio-visual round was an out of the world experience with short video clips of movies like The Conjuring and The Exorcism of Emily Rose being played to be identified by the teams.
The quiz ended at a thrilling note and left the participants awestruck and yearning for more.
Manjulika’s angel, The Reluctant Quizers and SFF were the round winners. Sawalon Se Darne Walewon the overall quiz. All of them were awarded the prizes by none other than Shweta Taneja.
After the distribution of prizes, the author was in conversation with Ginny about her book The Cult of Chaos. Here is a small excerpt from the conversation –
Ginny: As we know The Cult of Chaos is a fantasy, what was your research and preparation for the book?
Shweta: I did my best research and tried to keep the book as indigenous as possible. I read sixty books on tantrism, asked people about their experiences and folk stories. The blood of my book is Indian, unlike the western magic world fantasies.
After the conversation, the floor was open to questions and an interesting assortment of questions was thrown at the author to which Taneja answered with smiles and incredulity. More serious questions regarding her novel and protagonist were also asked.
A stunning quiz, interesting discussions and a few laughs and smiles, the evening came to an end. Check out an interview with the author.
Would you like the supernatural quiz in your city? Contact me!
There will be a quiz on everything paranormal and supernatural. There will be freebies like blade-shaped bookmarks and giveaways and book prizes and snacks and laughter during the event. I confidently promise it’s going to be a blast. As much as the book is. So just come over!
Oxford Bookstore and HarperCollins
WITCHES AND VAMPS
A QUIZ ON PARANORMAL CRIME
to celebrate Shweta Taneja’s
CULT OF CHAOS
an Anantya Tantrist mystery
Think you know your supernatural sleuths?
To celebrate the launch of Cult of Chaos, the first book in the Anantya Tantrist detective series, author Shweta Taneja takes you on a dark mission through detective thrillers, supernatural mysteries and investigators who dabble with devilish crime. So brush up on popular occult shows, comics and books and get ready to stun her with your psychic best. The duel is on!
For all ages.
DAY: 28th March
TIME: 3pm – 5pm
VENUE: Oxford bookstore, Connaught Place, Delhi
A quiz so scary, we had to have it in broad daylight