Polluted seas and the strong winds of the monsoon do not seem to deter bathers from entering the water. Every evening, locals together with tourists from across India, gather at Bombay's famous Juhu beach. At a time of national communal tension, this cosmopolitan gathering represents a model for secular India. Hindus bathe alongside Muslims, families from Punjab drink coconut water sold by Christian Keralites and languages from Gujarati to Bengali fill the air. The Juhu shoreline belies the hate-filled rhetoric of India’s Hindutva politicians including Bombay’s governing Shiv Sena party.
Juhu is packed with food stalls offering pau bhaji and pani puri. Photographers take family portraits and then negotiate a price with their customers. A variety of hand-powered fairground rides turn to the rhythm of popular Hindi songs. As dusk settles over the coast, the sea darkens but life continues along the floodlit sands.