I didn’t want to write this initially. I honestly have no idea how to summarize a month of India and what I saw in a single post. And I really don’t want to bore you guys into reading a never ending essay either. So, I figured let’s just go by the traditional way. Allow the pictures to speak for themselves. Although they might not exactly convey my feelings, for some photographs were just badly pictured. Sorry about that guys, no matter how much technology improves, batteries have a life and they tend to die often.
Even then, I had no choice but to break it into two posts. This is the first of the two where I spent about 10 days in South India observing and participating in things. It’s titled “Off Wheels” simply because the second post is all about my train journeys around India. Anyways, let’s focus on this part of the journey first, shall we?
Here we go…
An Indian Wedding
It started off with my participation in an Indian wedding. It was my cousin’s. What was supposed to be my watch- and- be -impressed with Indian weddings, ended up being on-stage with my cousin. Not quite what I had in mind.
One would think, least I did, that wearing jewelry would invite looks. Man, I invited quite a few stares for not wearing any. Indian aunts and grannies offered to part with their chains so that “my neck wouldn’t appear bare”. I’m sorry what?
Did I mention Indian weddings can actually last a week?
I was told that my cousin’s three day affair was actually short. Good Lord!
Then again, I am glad it was a huge event else I will never have been able to witness an Indian wedding first hand. By the way, not all Indian weddings take place the same way. Well obviously given the number of states and the diversity of India.
The one I attended followed the Telugu customs. Specifically the Naidus. During the climax of the wedding, the part where the groom ties the sacred thread; was performed with a cloth between the groom and bride. Interesting aye. I was told about its significance, but as time went the information dissipated from my memory. Oops!
Did you know there were pre and post wedding events?
I didn’t. I hardly ever attend weddings. And the ones I have attended, ended within three hours or less. Not this one. One of the post wedding events was a visit to a remote temple in the heart of a South Indian village.
Both the names of the temple and the village were quite a mouthful. But that’s not the point. The temple was built for a deity or otherwise known as a guardian-deity. Can you actually say that? I just coined the term, I’m not sure if it exists. Anyways, the fact that the deity’s responsibilities is the well being of the people, the temple lies in the out skirts of a village. Makes sense innit.
The groom’s family are closely affiliated with the temple hence they tend to visit the temple, after every successful occasion, as a way of saying thank you to the deity.
Besides weddings, Indians celebrate everything. I’m not kidding. There was an ear piercing ceremony for a young kid and they even shaved his head.
The parents didn’t cut his hair since birth; all for this day: To shave his head bald and get his ears pierced. And between all of these, stuff a banana in his mouth hoping that would distract him. Ok…
The lady on the left was the official “ear-piercer”.
She was not using the pierce gun but a freaking needle! One that she would heat before piercing (read: hurting) the 3 year old’s ears. I swear she was aggressive but many would disagree with me. Sighs!
What’s a trip to India if you haven’t seen enough temples right?
At every step of the way, at every corner street stood a temple. Be it one with its towering height, and intricate designs or a simple hut with a deity sitting inside. The numbers were baffling. The bigger, grander temples were the most intriguing. With its cool interior despite the sweltering heat outside, and the history behind its architecture was just pure amazement.
Venky requires a post of his own, but remember how I didn’t wanna bore you guys to death with my long winded-ness? Hey, I hear you say, as if this post was any shorter but seriously I have summarized it to the best of my ability. Sobs.
Venky is a rich God. People donate their wealth to this deity. I was glad the money was put to good use, for the accommodation provided and the surrounding areas and areas within the temple were kept relatively clean. Infrastructures to aid devotees were well constructed too.
That was when I noticed these see through walls within the temple: the men behind the walls were counting cash! Loads of them! It was pouring cash in this part of India. Will someone please enlighten the poor souls begging on the streets about this place please!
It was literally raining money and… hair, due to devotees shaving their heads for one or another religious reason related to Venky. Meeting Venky was a tedious task. I had to shove and push people. Shout Govinda and later push through the crowds before me. It appeared as if people were shouting “Govinda” to get the adrenaline running before they exert their strength on the dude infront. Wonder how Venky feels about this? Sorry Govinda.
What I also realized, after I mastered the art of being Indian was that I hardly made eye contact with Venky. The entire union with throngs of other Indians between me and Venky, around me and Venky, lasted less than 2 minutes.
After the main viewing, which was twice, thanks to a certain privilege endowed by cousin’s father-in-law, we proceeded for a particular Unjal Utsav. What happens here is that Venky is brought in a chariot, and later transferred to a swing in a room filled with mirrors. The priest slowly pushes the swing creating a momentum for it. The scene is, devotees get to see Venky while he is relaxing with his two spouses on the swing. The comedian in this scene was this other priest at the entrance of the room going “Govinda Cepu! Govinda Cepu” at all who entered.
I mean why? Dude! Venky is resting. I don’t wanna go all Govinda on him now.
(To be continued…)