The Rafaees or Sufi body piercers are an integral part of Sufi folklore, they are the fakirs, ascetics, mendicants, peace loving adherents of a splinter Islamic faith.
They are looked down as heretics or madaris, but they exist, you will find them at Urus time, at important Shrines in Mumbai and Ajmer , all over India.
They have a head ,to whom the Rafaees pay allegiance, I have been recording the Chancawalli Rafaees of a Shrine called Chand Sa WAlli at Andheri East since 4 years.
They are a very private group, smoke hashish at the Holy Fire called the Dhuni..I met them first at the Holy Shrine of Makhdoom Shah Baba of Mahim and followed them from one shrine to the other, capturing them barefeet,they are a unique ethnicity.
They are akin to the Naga Sadhus with whom they have very cordial relations..
The person in the picture is Chalak Ali , a famous rafaee , he brings his eyeballs out of the sockets..
He is a master at piercing his chest with a sword, his son Sharukh only 8 years old can put older rafaeees to shame.
All these pictures are at my Flickr photostream.
An Indian photographer late AS Sayed who shot Maharajahs , gave up photography , renounced the world to become a Fakir.
Being a Rafaee is a state of mind, a mystical divinity..
My pictures are not meant to shock or propagate any religious thought , I show you the underbelly of mans quest through ritualism, traditions and inherent culture of my unique country-India.
I am a Muslim , I am a Hindu , I am a Christian.
.yes I am Man .
A restless animal of a human clan
caught like a bubble
in a karmic cosmic plan
silhouettes of everchanging
nature a coward a superman
killing , for gain and profit
he came he saw he conquered
doomed in dafur
reborn in sudan