Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jain group of temples at Khajuraho

Kerry waiting at the train station in style.

Our hotel in Khajuraho had a resident white rabbit. Kristina really wanted to catch it.

Adhinatha temple.

The Parshvanatha temple.
A dancer, surrounded by two vyalas, removing a thorn from her foot.

A jain tirthankara.
Another jain tirthankara.
Vishnu and his consort.

Mom visits: Sarnath, Lucknow, and an Indian Wedding

Mom about to experience her first rickshaw ride.

Mom pumpin' some water.

Assi Ghat at midday.
A water-buffalo's behind.
A paan, chai, and snack shop on Assi Ghat.

Zach in his fancy clothes for the wedding of our yoga teacher's daughter.
Riti and Kate.

Mom and Sarika (Bhabhi ji).A red cotton silk tree in Lucknow.
Mom at the La Marteniere School built by a French officer.

A freaky lion.
Mom exploring at the La Martiniere School.

Two sleepy Spotted Owlets.
Then it saw me taking a picture of it and woke up.A cute pair of Plum-headed Parakeets.

The giant memorial for Dr. Ambedkar, the famous Dalit leader who fought hard for the rights of untouchables (dalits). It was built by Mayawati, the current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, who is also a dalit. Although the memorial is for Ambedkar, Mayawati made sure to put plenty of statues of herself and of her party's symbol, the BSP elephant. The memorial is huge; it spanned at least a few acres plus a nearby park named for Dr. Ambedkar.

The yellow things are statues of BSP elephants covered with tarps so that no voters would be influenced by them in the recent elections.

Zach walking along the Ambedkar memorial. The statue in the middle of the road is an image of the Buddha; Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism because he did not want to be part of a religion (Hinduism) that treated him as filthy and impure.

Baby goat friends!

The outer wall of Bara Imambara in Lucknow, which contains a mosque and a labyrinth!

The mosque at Bara Imambara.

Mom in an old mosque in Lucknow.
Mom trying to climb into the labyrinth.Inside the labyrinth.

Long halls of the labyrinth.Another long hallway.

Mom standing on top of the British Residency in Lucknow. 19th century nawabs of Lucknow built the Residency for the British, their primary trading partners. In 1857, the people of Lucknow attacked the Residency in protest against the British Raj. The Residency stands today in the condition it was in after the Uprising of 1857.The Residency

Mom looking very tired after our long day in Lucknow.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ek mai aur ek tu (one me and one you)

Me posing with a Bollywood film poster ("Ek Main aur Ek Tu" with Imran Khan and Karina Kapoor) which has a combination of Christmas and Valentine's day paraphernalia on it and is coming out February 10th, which is neither Christmas nor Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Saraswati shrines for Saraswati puja

I had thought that Saraswati puja would last for only one day (this past Saturday) and be over. But actually, many temporary shrines have been set up everywhere for Saraswati; it reminds me a lot of Durga puja! People play loud music day and night. Last night, some of our neighbors performed an evening arti (type of prayer) while banging on pots and pans in our alleyway. They had even set up a stage light by tying it to the telephone wire. The reason some people keep up their Saraswati shrines after the day of Saraswati puja is that they are waiting for an astrologically auspicious hour to submerge their image of Saraswati in the Ganges River.

Here are a bunch of pictures of various Saraswati shrines and parades in the streets of Banaras (complete with lots of rowdy young men dancing and trying to touch girls):

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saraswati Pooja

Yesterday was Saraswati Pooja. Saraswati is the goddess of learning, so on Sarasvati Pooja, all institutions of learning have special poojas to Saraswati to bless the students and their studies. Anyone who participates in Saraswati Pooja is supposed to refrain from studying at all on that day to honor the goddess. Since we were refraining from studying, we all went out to the nearby movie theater to see Agnipath (“The path of fire”), a remake of a 1990s Amitabh Bachchhan movie. It was ok, I thought it was really violent; the director made every scene of the movie into an EPIC scene but not always with an EPIC reason behind the epicness.

We have also started studying Arabic with a young man who works in a madrassa, a school where children are taught Arabic, Urdu, and the Koran. We had our first lesson in a park outside a Hindu temple, which I thought was funny.

Kate and I, excited for the puja to start.

The pujari (Hindu priest) setting up a room in our program house for the Saraswati puja.

Vimal ji, our Hindi teacher, acting as the yajnamana (the main beneficiary/representative of household i.e. our program) over the agni yajna (fire sacrifice).

The sacrificial fire is lit.
Everyone goes to take blessings from the sacrificial fire.

Zach during the puja.
Saraswati ji.