The Temple Heist
From Varanasi, India
The rhesus monkeys or what I simply call “temple monkeys” are a frequent sight in these parts of the world. However, the Hanuman langur is probably less common in urban areas of Varanasi. Named after the Hindu monkey-god Hanuman, these primates are treated with some reverence.
It was evening in the Cowrie Mata temple, where pilgrims offer the traditional goodbye to Shiva’s sister before departing this city. As I was climbing the steps, I heard a ruckus somewhere above the rocks. A hungry mother langur had made away with someone’s lunch of Indian bread and curry rice, and was bounding up the rocks, her baby in tow. A woman screamed at her simian adversary, waving her hands menacingly.
A male langur watched this scene from a ledge above. As the sun slanted on his face, lighting up his white tuft, I could see him studying the woman with great intensity, ready to make a protective move if any harm was to befall his family.
I used scratchboard to capture his sharp features and the wispy white tuft of hair.
Very soon, it was all over as the langur troops moved on to foraging another shrine and the temple monkeys finally took over.
– In my new book Rambles into Sacred Realms: Exploring Divinity through Pen and Paint, I invite readers to experience such adventure and humor illustrating my travels.