Kawariyas: Pilgrimage to Fetish

Kawariyas can be easily seen travelling in trains without ticket, overloaded buses or walking on roads in saffron costume.

Keshav Pandey is a Photographer – based in New Delhi.


This month is called Sawan according to the Indian calendar – every year during this month millions of Hindu people take the pilgrimage walk to various holy sites across the country. In this month of Sawan, Kawariyas can be easily seen travelling in trains without ticket, overloaded buses or walking on roads in saffron costume. This is a yearly ritual.

Kawariyas remained in news headlines – not because of their devotion to lord Shiva and the Hindu religion but several incidents like Delhi Moti Nagar car damage episode last year, Meerut police van attack and the fact that the Uttar Pradesh top officials engaged in the most expensive act of scattering flowers from a helicopter which costed around 14 lakhs.

It is not the first time we have seen this hooliganism of kawariyas in the name of religion and holy pilgrimage. During the last few years I have noticed how a holy pilgrimage has been advanced with religious politics and taken a devastating route.

Firstly, this makes one confused whether it is a religious pilgrimage or political campaign of the prevalent government because they are wearing a complete saffron dress with imprints of Yogi and Modi, the entire route is dotted with national flags, they are often seen holding hockey sticks and completely intoxicated by Ganja.

Few days back I went to Haridwar from where they took Gangajal. They were mostly teenagers, wearing ghungroo and playing damru, walking in groups, smoking Ganja.

It was not easy to ignore them. This is the outcome of the present time, this also manifests what how much we have progressed. This is unfortunate to realize that these groups of Kaawariyas as a raw energy; completely intoxicated with ideas of religious politics ‘ hindutva’ – commanded and controlled by television channels, social media and local leaders and it cannot be denied that this energy can be used anytime, anywhere on the name of religion and nationalism.

I wonder how mob violence and communal tensions are continuously taking place all over the country. Who is generating mob lynching and communal tension and bringing the nation to extremes? The possibility is very near to us, these innocent minds are always used as weapons of politics.

Instead of facilitating good education and work to them, the various institutions are using their raw energy in the name of nationalism and religion. It is true that they have never read a book or understood the meaning of nationalism or religion but the political groups too do not want them to read or think for themselves and on issues that impact their living.


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