Thursday, January 3, 2008

Temples and Shrines

There are temples and altars and shrines everywhere in India, on every hilltop, on street corners, tucked between two shops, small ones & big ones... They are always interesting and often beautiful.
Here's a little detail from a temple here in Pune that we visited a couple of days ago. This picture captures a few specific things - the beautiful colors, the fresh flowers given as offerings, and the swastikas drawn on the wall with pigment. The swastika is a sacred symbol here in India and once you get used to seeing it everywhere, it's actually very nice to see this perfectly innocent symbol with a clean and untarnished usage.

At the same temple as the previous picture, I took this shot of the stairway up to the temple. Pilgrims have carefully touched and marked each stair on the climb to the temple in an act of special humility and devotion... each leaving their own unique mark.

This Ganesh shrine is a rather large and elaborate one, located in back of the park which is across the street from our apartment. It's very lovingly maintained with flowers and lights and music and is well-swept. There are chairs for contemplating or resting. There are even little candies that you can eat (Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, also happens to be a sweet-lover).

This shrine to Hanuman was at the Ayurvedic Retreat center... That's Hanuman, the monkey god (and symbol of devotion) in the middle, wearing a couple of garlands. There are all sorts of other goodies in there with him too... a melting pot!

This is the same temple from the first two pictures. This is Jen, me, and Abbey up at the top. Sorry for that big railing in the picture, but we were using the auto-taker feature. Can you see the smog? Pune is one seriously polluted place! This temple was very beautiful and still very much in use. Compared to what I saw on my last trip to India, Pune seems very modern and relatively well-off. There are countless young ladies wearing tight jeans and tight tee shirts (and of course, an equal number wearing more traditional clothes). We've even seen many couples holding hands or snuggling in public, which I don't think we saw even once last time. So, it was interesting for us to see that many of these western-dressed girls and their boyfriends (?) were at the temple, very humbly and sincerely doing their pooja rituals.

1 comment:

cynthiamathews said...

Ah! Bonanza! Our power was off for over 24 hours, as the major storm of the year blew through. It was pretty spectacular. We just hunkered down with a fire and candles, and went to two movies last night.

Now that the power has been restored, we're rewarded with multiple posts from you. I love the way you've organized the themes and chosen the pictures. So evocative! Sounds like you're having a completely great time.

Now let's have some pictures of the institute itself -- overview, details, teachers, fellow students, anything.

By the way, we got a rowing machine. Rowland found it on Craig's list for a really good deal (from the Stanford crew, no less) and sold it to us at his cost. So now we're in the club. Laura loaned me a couple of her Concept 2 (rowing machine) newsletters, and one of them has an article on rowing + yoga as highly complementary disciplines. New ground to explore. This helps fulfill one of my new year's resolutions to get more cardio workout.

All for now.