Trip to the Lotus Temple

Day 22 in New Delhi

For my last afternoon in Delhi, I wanted something calm and relaxing so I headed south to the Baha’i Lotus Temple, an astounding piece of modern architecture. I had the opportunity to walk the grounds, learn a bit about the Baha’i faith, and sit in on a service. Baha’i works to find the unity in all major world religions, and for the service I joined practitioners read verses from the New Testament, the Hebrew Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Quran followed by a period of silent, personal prayer and reflection.  This gave me time to think back on my experience with Nazdeek, plan out what might come next for the project, and prepare for the start of my last year of graduate school–courses start just a week after I return.

Coming from a background in both religious studies and architecture this was an amazing experience both in terms of the content of the service and the design of the space. I couldn’t think of a better way to end my trip. Photography was not allowed inside the temple, but here are some shots of the exterior:

Trip to Red Fort and Jantar Mantar

Day 21 in New Delhi

After an exciting three weeks of work with Nazdeek and a day of celebrating Indian Independence on the 15th, I took a trip to the famous Red Fort, the walled residence of Mughal emperors from the 15th to the 17th century.

On the way over, however, I stopped at Jantar Mantar, a fascinating architectural complex designed for astrological observation in 1724. Having studied Jantar Mantar in architectural history courses, I was quite excited to experience this little known wonder in the heart of Delhi, only to find that the complex is currently under renovation. While the construction did interfere with my visit, I was happy to know that the site is being preserved after years of disrepair.

Trip to Humayun's Tomb

Day 19 in New Delhi

After my last day of work with Nazdeek, I decided to take a sunset trip to Humayun’s Tomb, just 10 minutes via auto from my office. Humanyun’s Tomb is precursor to the Taj by about 100 years, but the two possess many architectural similarities. A beautiful site to say the least. Below are the photos from the visit.

Every Mother Counts: Storytelling to Combat Maternal Mortality in India

Day 17 in New Delhi

As part of their ongoing mission to bring access to justice closer to marginalized communities in India, Nazdeek was recently awarded a Grant from Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother.

Nazdeek, with the support of Every Mother Counts, is working to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women like Sonali to ensure they receive the maternal health care they are entitled to.

Nazdeek, with the support of Every Mother Counts, is working to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women like Sonali to ensure they receive the maternal health care they are entitled to.

In India, 50,000 women die from pregnancy and childbirth related causes every year; this accounts for 17% of all maternal deaths globally, more than any other country in the world. Culturally accepted discrimination against women—particularly poor women from lower castes and indigenous communities—drive India’s high rate of maternal deaths.

Key members of the Nazdeek staff were essential in the landmark case that first recognized maternal mortality as a human rights violation and the right to survive pregnancy as a fundamental right protected by the Indian Constitution.  Expanding and protecting women’s access to maternal health has been a central tenet of Nazdeek’s work. Funds from Every Mother Counts’ Impact Grant will enable Nazdeek to train activists and lawyers to document maternal health and infant health rights violations and use legal advocacy to demand better healthcare for mothers.

I has a chance to create the following photo series to kick-off Nazdeek’s work with Every Mother Counts. The amazing photographs were provided by Rajan Zaveri and Carlo Ghidini, I did content selection and photo-editing. The series is meant to exposes the current barriers to maternal health care on tea gardens in Assam, India.

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Every month, Nazdeek will be releasing another storytelling piece highlighting the impact of their projects in Delhi and Assam. With the help and support of Every Mother Counts, Nazdeek will continue to combat violations of  maternal health rights and work to put an end to preventable maternal deaths in Delhi, Assam, and across India.

A Trip to Qutb Minar

Day 15 in New Delhi

With the day off from work, I decided to take a trip to South Delhi and visit the Temple Complex of Qutb Minar. While I love the advocacy media work I am currently engaged in with Nazdeek, it was nice to have the afternoon to focus on simple tourist media, and I couldn’t have asked for better weather. Here are the photos:

Land of Pure Vision: The Sacred Geography of Tibet and the Himalaya w/David Zurick (Video)

Land of Pure Vision: The Sacred Geography of Tibet and the Himalaya

A public talk by David Zurick, with comments from Dominique Townsend, Columbia University and Rubin Museum of Art and Mark Larrimore, Eugene Lang College, The New School.

This photo illustrated talk explores the intersection of faith and geography in the Himalayan region. It draws upon David Zurick’s many decades of work as a geographer and photographer in the mountains, and centers on his recently completed ten-year series of photographs of sacred landscapes and pilgrims. Maps and pictures in the talk will convey key components of nature, place, networks, and change, which together compose a mental cartography rooted in ritual and religious experience. The purpose of David’s talk is to visually evoke a sacred mountain world where the human spirit is in synchronicity with divine and natural forces, and to explore how the idea of sacred geography upholds both timeless beauty and the inevitably of landscape change.

David Zurick left home in 1975 to journey on the Overland Trail from Europe to Asia and hasn’t looked back. He completed his PhD in Geography at the University of Hawaii and East-West Center, Honolulu, and has written extensively about Asia and the Pacific, with a special focus on the Himalaya region. His writing and photography have won numerous awards, including the National Outdoor Book Award in 2006 for Illustrated Atlas of the Himalaya and the “Mt Everest Award” in 2009 for his Himalaya studies. The subject of much of his writing and photography is the contemporary cultural landscape.

Dominique Townsend is a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University and Head of Interpretation at the Rubin Museum of Art. She has a Masters from Harvard Divinity School and a PhD from Columbia’s Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. Her research focuses on the intersections of Tibetan Buddhism and broader culture with a focus on high culture, education and aesthetics.
Mark Larrimore is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Eugene Lang College. He earned his BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Worcestor College, Oxford and his PhD in Religion from Princeton University. A few of his research interests are the problems of good and evil; race, religion, and ethics in Kant; and historicity of concepts of religion and ethics.
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