Monday, July 25, 2011

Evening Aarti at Pashupatinath...

Evening Arati during Sravan month, for the river Bagmati at Pashupatinath Temple Ghats.
This graceful co-ordinated ritual conducted by a group-3 or 5- of young priests, pays homage to the river Bagmati everyday without fail.
It is conducted from across the Pashupatinath temple, high up on the stone-paved terrace across the river,  and near the steps to the temple, burning pyres on the Arya Ghat.
Death and Celebration at Pashupatinath

If you notice carefully, you will see a coffin open at the Arya Ghat across from the banks on which the evening Arati is taking place. These coffins, most probably carry bodies of expatriate workers killed on foreign shores. People walk around the few mourners, family members? urchins, gawking-tourists, pilgrims and strollers, walking around the space , up the stairs to visit the temple.
And curiously, the smell of burning flesh does not linger...

The polluted grey-black waters of the Bagmati for a few moments conjure the myth of  clarity and serenity. 
The overcast skies and smoke from the burning ghats of Pashupatinath from across the bridge crossing the Bagmati.
Having waited a decade to come back and visit the temple, it was an unexpected bonus to witness this beautiful ritual..
The ladies who attend to the space where the priests perform this ritual beckoned to come and sit right behind them! Up above us on the platform, singers sat on small covered platforms.
We sat and watched and I could not bear to disturb the scene by lifting up my camera, though it was small. Everything was done without flash, but it still felt intrusive. The spaces were together with the fragrant incense wafting towards us,  and the burning bodies far away on the other side, yet it all looked  as if one could stretch out and touch, forgetting the chasm in between.

When at one stage,  we were handed finger length stubs of candles, and I hesitated, the lady beckoned me to come towards the  beautiful polished silver tiered lamps. Jostling to light the one on my right, the lady again called me out to the middle one and made space for, so if in a dream, I bent down, and touched the little stub onto the white one here, and then another and another.....

High above the black-grey waters of the polluted Bagmati..for a long heartbeat...
This is the final Aarti with camphor/lights.
It is followed  with that using a conch, water, flowers, fans/whisks.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Monsoon in India, 2011

Our arrival a couple of weeks ago coincided with the monsoon. For privileged people like us,  in terms of a safe  and dry haven, watching the monsoon, getting drenched by choice and viewing the monsoon through the lens of nostalgia and old window bars, cozy on a bedroll, with books by the side and hot food... it is a different reality.

Flowering shrubs  against the blue tarpaulin of the multi-storied construction going on in the neighbourhood. 

Driving through the city which had a laidback feel- a landscape with rock formations, lakes and water bodies  and old trees lining the highway: think of the Old Bombay -Pune Highway.Hyderabad has cut a swathe across its beautiful, fairly undisturbed landscape of pre-historic rock formations over the past decade. Nay, it has decimated the landscape and dressed itself in concrete and glitz, in a mad rush towards being a metropolis. So the drive from the airport through the 'ring-road' evoked mixed feelings.This was a comfortable 'scar' across the old villages, with fields already earmarked for residential plots, ever hungry land sharks catering to the demand for 'investment' from the population. Old water bodies struggling to survive against the encroachments...

Travelling back home from Chennai this week, the flight over the landscape revealed part of that old landscape.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Cherry Tree at the Japanese Garden, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.
This weekend, the National Cherry Blossom Festival is taking place in Washington DC. IT has been a mixed feeling, viewing the cherry blossoms season here. In between the historic events worldwide and the tragedy in Japan, the delicate pink blossoms came and gave way to leaves of different hues! The Kwanzan Cherry blossoms will come later but the other blossoms came beautifully and left a bitter-sweet feeling.

Work commitments and our youngester's acitvities this weekend,  has kept us home, unlike last year. In between the turned-up pace at school, work, we did find time to wander around the conservatory in Lewis Ginter, earlier this month.  Things were not in place yet but we did catch a glimpse of what was to come for the season.
Orchids at the Conservatory

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stormclouds in August...

After thumbing our noses at this type of entertainment for all our lives,
we finally packed our bags....

 and reached here under the gathering storm....
To sample some Butterbeer and goodies.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer thunderstorms and Jasmine

For a heartbeat,  one was back  during the Southwest monsoons: the smell of rain and wet earth and trees.
The jasmine bush on our deck from April through July in its second bloom.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Coneflowers and Lilies...

An Hybrid variety of Echinacea but gorgeous gorgeous shade of pink!
Loved them on the weathered blue gray of our deck but it would soon be transplanted.
Had to move them to the shade during the 3 digit temperatures during the last week; the buds were getting burnt!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Portulaca on my weathered old  blue deck.
This has been prolific over the past few weeks in shades of Rani Pink, Golden Yellows, White and shades of all.....