Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

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Damon takes an Indian bride

March 9, 2007

Over the course of my month here in India, friends who’ve learned that D & I are about to get married, and that he was coming to visit at the end of my stay have pushed, half-seriously, for an Indian wedding. Last week, I was visiting the extraordinary archeological park at the Qutb Minar, and my flatmate Karen suggested we have a Hindu ceremony amidst these ruins. I conceded that the ancient pillars and carvings made for a dreamy setting, but that we couldn’t begin to make something like that work in such short time and with our travel plans. Fast forward to raucous Holi celebrations with CCS friends and staff, free-flowing Kingfisher and whiskey, and a jet-lagged Damon nodding in happy confused agreement, and a plan was hatched.img_0769.jpg

In three days, our friends pulled together the most beautiful wedding ceremony on a rooftop in Hauz Khas, leaving their placements early to decorate the place with marigolds and set up the traditional implements for the Hindu priest. Our “western” wedding in April is still very much on, but how could we resist the mystical ritual, evocative setting, the sensual beauty… and of course, the red saree and turban…?

More photos of me and my husband after the jump…

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Nizamuddin

March 9, 2007

The most emotionally powerful experience I’ve had thus far in India, outside of my work placement, has been my visit to the Sufi shrines of Nizamuddin. Deep into an ancient Muslimindia-132.jpg quarter that, according to Lonely Planet, “hasn’t changed since the Middle Ages,” are the tombs of Hazrat Nizamuddin and his most faithful follower, poet Amir Khusrau. On Thursday nights, the sacred qawwalis are sung into these shrines, and after reading a snippet about them in some long-forgotten source, I decided I had to try witness this music. It was my good luck that Raja, a CCS staff member, has a personal connection with the man who oversees the shrines and is a descendant of caretakers past.

india-139.jpgAs this is not a place westerners typically venture, I lobbied for some company on the outing, and promised the takers that I’d figure out the details. Raja gave us strict, solemn, and vaguely intimidating instruction on directions, dress, behavior, and prohibitions, as well as the rumpled business card of the shrine’s overseer Asaf Ali. We had some nervous fun experimenting for an hour or two with different types of dress to assure we were appropriately covered and set out just before sunset. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Welcome to the Golden Temple

March 7, 2007

A bit ago, I mentioned that I was taking the weekend off to visit Amritsar… and several of you have asked about it since. I was holding off on posting, because my camera died partway through the weekend, and several of my favorite pictures are trapped on someone else’s (incompatible) camera, waiting for a way to share.

But in the interest of catch-up, I’ll say it was a wonderful, exhausting weekend. Crammed in aindia-147.jpg tiny hatchback meant for three with our 6’2 driver, Jasvinder, four volunteers and all of our luggage for a 10+ hour (each way!) drive was something to remember. On the outskirts of Delhi on Friday after work, we were still straining not to press too much against one another or intrude on personal space. By the trip back on Sunday, we were eating off each other’s plates and sleeping in the back seat wrapped around each other in the Pompeii mummies’ eternal embrace.

The Golden Temple is the primary reason to visit this pollution-choked city in the Punjab and india-155.jpgit doesn’t disappoint. It is the be-all, end-all for Sikhs and really, for just about anyone who walks through the giant gates. From Wikipedia: “The temple is surrounded by a pool of water, known as the Sarovar which consists of Amrit (Holy Water). There are four entrances to the temple, signifying the importance of acceptance and openness; ostensibly, this concept is reminiscent of the tent of Abraham in the Old Testament — his tent was open on all four sides in order to be able to welcome travelers from all directions. Read the rest of this entry ?