Sunday, November 21, 2010

Halloween on the Ganges

Hardly creepy, but sort of dark evening excursion on the religiously significant Ganges River.

Another rickshaw ride brought us to the bazaar that leads to the steps (or"gahts") of the Ganges River. We boarded a rickety boat and rowed down river and saw a cremation site. Family members are responsible for the preparation and actual cremation of their loved ones. Rowing back up river, the water was twinkling with candles floating in tiny leaf-boats. These are offerings to the gods.

If the experience wasn't moving enough, we arrived in time for the nightly Aarti ceremony, a "thanksgiving" ceremony of sorts. In my little sketchbook, I began jotting down the layer on layer of sounds I heard, as well as the various aspects of the ceremony. I stopped, shut my eyes, absorbed in the sounds. I opened them to the light, smoke, flames, and color of the ceremony—suddenly, the "short list" of the things I am most thankful for in life jumped into my head, in an order I'd never thought of things before.

For simple "tourist excursions," and not deeply invested in Hinduism, I am still in aw at how powerful and meaningful these moments were to me.

How did you spend your Halloween? ;-)

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