Hindus love a good festival, and throw themselves into fervent and joyful worship more than any other group that I’ve seen. We were too early to see the extraordinary, skin-defying lime and cheek piercings that our friend Debra showed us, but we were fortunate enough to catch the beginning of pilgrimage season in Kerala. All men and boys over 6 undertake at least one pilgrimage every year. This involves wearing no shoes, ever during the pilgrimage (even if it involves travel by plane, bus or foot in the jungle), wearing orange or black, usually only on the bottom half, occasionally daubing ones face with dye, and lots and lots of drumming, singing and dancing. It also seems to involve whacking one’s friends with tree branches from time to time. After all the revelry there is a long walk / dance to a temple of great significance.
Sometimes this is in a town, sometimes in a jungle. Once there, they prostrate themselves in honor of their god of choice (SO many to choose from in Hinduism). We saw pilgrims everywhere – sometimes walking or dancing, often traveling in fantastic pilgrimage buses festooned with flowers. When we traveled back from Chennai to Kerala yesterday, half the plane was filled with barefoot, adorned pilgrims, going matter-of-factly about their business. – rather nice to not have the bother of removing their shoes for security…
All aboard the pilgrim bus
We haven’t quite got our heads around Hinduism yet but watch this space for our idiot’s guide to it soon.