Check out my original post on Janmashtani Celebrations and Indian Hospitality on the India Someday site.
It seems like everyday is some type of holiday or festival here in India. From Jain holidays to Krishna celebrations, festivities abound. Many Jain folks are fasting for 8 days now. In areas of Mumbai, there is a ban on the sale of meat during this holiday time.
Just when I thought I had a full Janmashtami experience at the community celebration in Ahmbedabad, I immediately got a sense that the Jagdish Temple festivities in Udaipur would be quite a wonder – and I sure was right. Colorfully-dressed men, women and children, amplified music, the clay pot dangling up above the public square, shiny streamers and lights – and a buzz of festival-like energy was constant.
I was told that after 6pm the festivities would really get started, and that they would end by around 8:15 or whenever the pyramid of boys grew tall enough to knock the clay pot of yogurt down.
I made my way over at around 7/730 and joined the dense crowd of spectators. I wish I could have somehow made it to one of the many balconies overflowing with onlookers but found myself a spot where the visibility wasn’t bad and there actually some room for breathing. But that changed pretty quickly! I rarely go deep into tightly crowded spaces unless I feel I have a very clear path to exit and am armed with lots of water but this seemed like a pretty special opportunity and I decided to stick it out. I was able to hold my camera up high and snap some good shots – and purposely placed myself near women to avoid any of the unwanted gropes I’ve been warned about.
Spectators roared with enthusiasm, the catchy music played loudly and there was lots of call and response, similar to the community celebration in the Ahmbedabad slum.
The crowd got tighter and tighter and the boys made pyramids that grew taller and taller, yet still nowhere near the clay pot. It was exhilarating to join in the excitement yet anxiety provoking to be in the increasingly crowded audience, not to mention the sweat literally dripping from my body. I would think it was as cramped as humanly possible – and then dozens of more people would push their way towards me from both sides. I loved the experience though was horrified at the same time, remembering terrible news stories involving intense crowds of this sort. I finally retreated, recognizing how much longer it would take. Plus, I had exciting dinner plans with a friend of my NY friend Aditi. So grateful for the connections she’s made for me. I finally pushed and squeezed my way out of the crowds (not an easy feat) and enjoyed another vantage point from the distance.
I worked my way through the maze of crooked streets and headed to the Jaiwana Haveli to meet Aditi’s friend Yash. His family has been living there for generations and now runs the beautiful hotel with stunning views overlooking the lake and palace. We met up on the roof and enjoyed a refreshing Kingfisher, some decent convo and yet another scrumptious meal, the highlight of which was the chili paneer.
I walked myself back to Madri Haveli through the windy maze, excited for a much- needed shower and rinsing of my sweat-filled clothes. I learned later that it took the boys 40 tries to make a pyramid tall enough to reach the clay pot – so glad I left when I did!
Super thankful for the A/C in my room, I slumbered well and woke to yet another delicious breakfast, this time enjoyed with Rajesh and Shankar Singh Charan, manager of the Madri Haveli. I went to check out Rasjesh’s impressive gallery and was picked up there for my next adventure – the Krishna Ranch.
Loving India. Loving life.
Thank you India Someday.
Thank you You Wander We Pay.
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