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Published: March 19th 2011
Of all the wonderful memories we have on the trip so far, one of the most memorable has to be our participation in the puja to Ganesh at the ayurvedic center and a celebration at the temple by the ferry to Kuruva Island. The guys (all two of them) got to wear a dhoti while us ladies were able to wear saris. A few of the staff ladies helped us put the saris on and I have a total new appreciation for those women that wear them everyday - such a lot of tucking, pinning and folding of nearly 6m of fabric.
At 5pm the puja started with the priest making offering to Ganesh. There were 2 extremely energetic bands that played accompanying music – drums, horns and cymbals. By the time band #2 started up we were all getting a little uncomfortable sitting on the ground so welcomed the call to dinner.
We really had no idea what was happening as no one was organized enough to tell us. All week it was “we will give you details at breakfast tomorrow” then “lunch tomorrow” etc. However, about 7pm we all assembled out front and slowly order came from
the chaos. We were given plates containing burning oil in a coconut shell, incense sticks (stuck into small banana) and all this was surrounded by flowers. The bands were part of the procession as well as a number of young men who had massive “flower pots” on the heads. And off we went, two lines into the darkness walking ever so slowly.
Now the temple is either a 15 minute walk along the river front (not too safe in the dark) or a 30 min walk up a poorly paved road, along a flat bit and then back down to the river. We were somewhat surprised when we went none of these routes, but instead walked the opposite way – obviously we had misunderstood which temple we were going too – although we had walked this other route numerous times and had not seen a temple. In the distance there were some flashing lights which turned out to be on top of a tuk tuk. Aha – it was a tuk tuk temple! But no, apparently we were to follow this tuk tuk to the temple!!!l it turned out that we were going to muster with a large group
of local women who joined the procession…. And then back the way we had just walked and then we finally turned up the hill. This part of the road is so poorly paved that you have to watch your footing during the daytime. Now we were taking baby steps so we wouldn’t trip and I was having to hold my sari up as it was a little long and I was in danger of tripping on that also
The local women were probably thinking that organising us was like herding cats – they were always prodding us back in to line when we strayed. They were also watchful when we had the opportunity to put the plates on the ground during a break – if we stood too close to the flames there was the risk of fire if our saris got too close to the flame. We were total klutzes compared to the Indian women. They continually walked between us, making sure that the oil lamps were full and we had incense sticks burning. Periodically they took the plates from us to give us a break.
And so we went on at a snails pace, stopping very
frequently for breaks – which was probably more necessary for the bands and the dancing flower pot men. And then there was the periodical tongue piercing of some of the men – who completed the procession with skewers through their tongues.
At the top of the hill, another huge group of women joined in and the resultant line of oil lamps as the far as the eye could see was mesmorizing. Once we got to the bottom of the hill there was one final break before the big finale – we were handed small glasses of sweetened ginger coffee. Delicious.
Finally, about 3.5 hours after starting out, we reached the temple. There were huge crowds in the temple grounds and after walking around the temple, the plates were taken and the contents separated and thrown into various piles. The end of the procession was still filing in as we left.
We were shepherded into waiting vehicles and it was back home for a good nights sleep. The staff from the center did an excellent job at looking after us through the whole experience.
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