Temple run

I was beginning to think that the whole day was going to suck when we got our Golden Ride. It was 14:00, we were hitchhiking since 8, and had only gotten one single respectable ride to a temple town called Chidambaram. A very noisy temple. Many people were celebrating a political victory of one kind or another by blowing up hundreds upon hundreds of firecrackers.

But the hitching wasn’t very good. People kept stopping on their motorcycle to explain to us how to get to the bus station. When we managed to get across the fact that we were hitching, they usually underwent a little culture shock and went on explaining that it was absolutely sure not to work. I really liked it when someone stopped to pick us up right at that moment.

And we were tired too. A night out on the beach. We had expected that the worst we’d have to deal with would be the strong wind and the cold, but the wind abated after sundown, and was replaced and outclassed in annoyingness by the “beach security”. After much deliberation, they agreed to allow us to spend the night on the beach, but then tried to charge us money. Well done, dummy; if we had money maybe we wouldn’t be sleeping on a beach to begin with.

Also, there were five of us. Weirdo and Cranky would have said that we were four, but I like to count myself as a person, even if I don’t occupy a seat. Anna and Anton (I finally got his name) were with us. That made the shitty hitching in the morning much more bearable.

But when the golden ride arrived, we had split, and agreed to meet up in the city of Thanjavur.

The people who picked us up were a Tamil family of three that were on a temple binge. They were just back from the very temple we had visited earlier, and on their way to a bunch of others, going through Thanjavur on the way home. “Would we like to visit the temples with them?” Bet your ass!

You can play this as background music for the rest of the post:

The first temple we’d been to, we just walked around aimlessly, looking at the pretty colors, not understanding a thing, wondering about the people queuing in one corner, not daring to queue with them. But, with Rajmar and his parents, we could see everything, if not understand.

As we walk deeper into the temple, switching to smaller, more intimate rooms, we arrive into the chamber of the God himself. A priest is here, always, that will perform the ritual for you while you pray. With perfumes, smoke, fire and flowers, chanting mantras, dancing sometimes. And, depending on the God, the priest, the temple, or maybe other variations, you will receive in your hand holy water to drink, holy flower petals to eat or holy ashes and powders to make pretty shapes on your forehead. The priest will receive in his hand a currency bill in exchange.

Rajmar and his family must be very generous people because they put a lot of money in a lot of priest-hands. And they bought many flower braids and coconuts and lemons and other things I couldn’t place as offerings to the gods.

We stayed very long in the last temple. There was a long celebration, with music and fire and dumping bucketloads of flowers on top of Shiva’s head. That didn’t look too comfortable, but Shiva must like it, otherwise they probably wouldn’t do it.

They dropped us in Thanjavur and went on their way. We’re in another one of them temples. This one is the hugest we’ve been to ever. My favourite too. Here’s a picture :

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We’ll finish posting and stuff and move on to Madurai. And, guess what? That’s where Rajmar and his family live !

PS : My first tooth officially came out. Go nuts in the comments, yo.

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Petit Bibi

Petit Bibi

I started this trip when I was 5 month old. By the time it ends, I'll have spent more than half my life on the road.

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