Monday, July 26, 2010

Festivals (India Trip - Part two)

Sabarimala (Lorad Ayyappa is the deity) is a Hindu temple located amidst of 18 mountains and thick forests in the Western Ghat mountain ranges in Kerala. It is considered to be the largest seasonal pilgrimage center in the world as per Wikipedia – 40-50 million people visit every season (
In olden days, a trip to this temple was so dangerous that many didn’t even return. As a result there were lot of preparations required to visit the temple. Traditionally one had to restrict  food habits, grow hair and beard, wear black cloths, wake up early in the morning, take bath and pray for 41 days and no women in the menstrual age group was allowed to visit.

On the previous night of the trip, the group gathered in the local Ayyappa temple and performed prayers and offerings. Later this became a festival in those temples. Here are some pictures from our local temple, the night before such a trip. All the pictures are taken at night with a lot of people moving around. So pardon me on the quality. I have NOT visited Sabarimala yet.

Entrance to the temple decorated with lights

Huge deity decorated with lights

A decorated elephant ready for the festival

A replica of the original temple is made using skin from banana plants and tender coconut leaf. Those people take a few hours to make the whole replica.

Some trained pilgrims get kind of hypnotized listening to the fast music/songs (these music tell the story of lord Ayyappa) and can do things that you and I can't even imagine. They can dance perfectly to the beats for hours (I have seen them dance for 4 to 6 hours non stop).

Monday, July 12, 2010

India Trip -- Part One

In my last post I had my stop-over at Singapore. When I reached my native place Kerala, the monsoon had already started. Everything around was tropical green. Here are some of the plants and fruits typical to my place.

A coconut tree

A fallen coconut under the tree

A banana tree

A banana leaf with rain drops

A Jasmine bud

Mangoes almost ready

Leaf of a (black) pepper plant

A custard apple

Air potato plant (its root is a vegetable, scientific name Dioscorea bulbifera)

Can you tell what this is?

It was the closeup shot of Jack fruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)