排燈節紀實 Diwali in Mumbai

今年10月19日,印度大節日,排燈節(Diwali)

根據我跟印度同事討論的結果,對孟買人而言,另外兩個大節日應該是春天3月的色彩節Holi跟秋天9月的象神節Ganesha。不過,以“land of festival”聞名的印度而言,在這片廣大多元的土地上,節日著實太多,誰也說不準,在哪一個省邦,又有著什麼樣具代表性的節日。

今年的排燈節,我破例沒去Varanasi,不過我肯定會想念Varanasi恆河畔的夜祭,滿眼飄逸跳舞的油燈,還有彷彿炸翻了天空,整夜喧囂的炮竹。

我待下來,想看看孟買人如何過排燈節Diwali

排燈節的由來,始於Lord Rama結束14年的深山靈修回歸他的王國Ayodhya時,其妻子Sita遭遇Lord Rama弟弟Laxman的設計,遭10頭怪Lanka Ravana囚禁。為了營救愛妻,Lord Rama打敗10頭怪,凱旋回國,王國子民一齊點燃燈火,迎接Lord Rama榮歸。而這一天,後來被賦予”光明戰勝邪惡“的含義,名為Diwali. (Wikipedia: Diwali (English: /dɪˈwɑːl/)[4] or Sanskrit dīpāvali means “series of lights”,[22] and is derived from dīpam “light, lamp” and oli “glow of light”. Diwali is also known as dīpotsavam “festival of lights”)。

排燈節前後共5天,分別具有不同的名字跟流程。在這5天當中,第一天,人們清潔,佈置居家環境,添購新衣,新鞋,餐具,在家門外或是陽台懸掛燈籠,霓虹燈,在家門外地上佈置油燈,繪製rangolis並放置鮮花,以迎接節日到來。第二天,人們沐浴,塗抹香油,女性則在手腳繪製Mandhi。第三天(今年落在10月19日),是排燈節的重頭戲,開窗開門迎接神明到訪,同時大家也穿上新衣,帶著甜點,拜訪親戚朋友,交換禮物,互道祝福的話。接下來的第四/第五天,分別屬於丈夫妻子/兄弟姊妹的節日,同樣互送禮物,並且祝福來年。看到這裡,是不是很像中國人的農曆新年?沒錯,Diwali也就是印度教的新年。

理解以上流程之後,昨天我去了一趟Goregaon車站,從家裡步行距離約40分鐘。Goregaon除了是一個火車大站之外,也是蔬菜水果各式商品的集散地,在這裡,大概沒有買不到的東西。

在Diwali節日腳步接近的同時,車站周邊販售的商品,理所當然都是應景的東西,熱鬧非凡。

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Wedding in Varanasi

I met the girl Shriya two years back in Varanasi. It was the first time I went to Varanasi.

December, 12 is her sister Shristy’s wedding. After two years I made my word true that I promised I will attend the wedding. After more than 30 hours of train travel and bit struggled with applying personal leave to my supervisor.

Shristy is a beautiful girl, but it is not enough. She is smart and lovely as well. Always at the first of her class. At her age of 21, traditionally she married to a boy whom was chosen by her parents. I only saw that boy in the wedding and never talked with him. But I believe they are made to each other.

In the past I could not image how two persons can get married without the procedure of “fall in love”. However, now I believe there is kind of rational concept behind “the arranged marriage”, and I even don’t know why and how I was convinced to believe it. Moreover I feel there is kind of beauty behind “the arranged marriage”. They met each other may be once or twice just before the marriage, and start to know each other after the marriage, then be together for the rest of lives.

For the limitation of time, actually I was not one of the witnesses of the ceremony. But it was more special for me that I was in the room where females got themselves ready for the ceremony: dressing up, making up. And the bride, the most beautiful one, I was so proud that I saw how she “was prepared to be a bride”.  The luxury dress, the various accessaries, the flowers….all of them are just stunning.

I was the only foreigner in the wedding. It was my first experience of Indian wedding. And definitely I will reserve at least two days for an Indian wedding in the future because traditionally the wedding will be continued for all night.

One day I was in Varanasi-The ghats

We will never miss the ghats in Varanasi no matter how many time we had visited this historical, busy city.

For me, the best time in a day to visit the ghats is early morning and evening. Especially I love to walk along the ghats in the early morning. At this moment we can have a holy and wonderful experience with the sunrise. Although, in the early morning it is always busy at the ghats because there are many boats(both paddling boats and auto boats) on the Ganga river, many pilgrimages having the rituals, and other activities such like: washing and handing cloths dry, bathing….still we can find the peaceful essence which appears in our heart.

This time, I lived nearby Dashashwamegh ghat at Marigold P. Guest House which presents a perfect location for both Ganga river and shopping, food at those small alleys.

Usually I took 40 minutes walking from Dashashwamegh ghat to Assi ghat in the early morning. Whatever I saw along this walking was just perfect and I will never be bored with it.

Apart from this, those small alleys definitely bought me lot of confusion: 100% you will lost your way in it. :), and fun of discovering: food, groceries, drinks, sweets, sari, cloths, vegetable, fruit…and it is the most attractive in Varanasi.

I met few friends and exchanged our experience of life with each other. That was fantastic, and was the essence of travel as well.

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One day I was in Varanasi-The Dev Diwali

Every evening there is a Puja at the main ghat. This day was Diwali, thus there were much more followers gathered.

Fire is one of the most important elements for Hinduism because people used lot of fire during the worship. Though it was much concerned that the pollution may occur problems, however it seemed that we won’t give up the long historical tradition.

Moreover, followers were the most important element as well.  Many flowers were sold on the streets and at the ghats. People bought flowers for worship and decorated their houses.

Then fireworks were the most crazy part. At the Diwali night and following several days, all India was fired by those beautiful spark, this year there was a new role for Diwali that is “sky light” which is also very famous in Taiwan at some special occasions.

Beside above, the neon lights were also widely used for decoration. I have my own neon lights at my room windows too. 🙂

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A Story

S is a young boy whom she met at the ghat in Varanasi. It was almost 2 years back, a solo journey in the autumn. Afternoon was generally a resting time for Varanasi people, the sunlight was still quite warm but the wind was blowing tenderly on the face when she sit on the stairs of ghat did nothing but gazed at the Ganga river. The side stalls looked lazy and be awaiting for the crowd gathered at the ghat for Puja in the evening.

She didn’t aware when S noticed her until S approached to her just simply asked: Can I sit down and talk with you? She simply answered: Why?

” For street interview, I work for a company which needs some information. That is why I need to survey”.

This was not a very convinced reason, however she answered few questions which she didn’t remember what exactly the questions were when she recalled the memory.

S is not a very good looking boy but warm and lovely. After the conversation they spent several hours together on the boat, chatted on the roof of guest house, and had a good dinner. Since that day, To her, S is a good friend, a lover, a partner, and a young brother. But there will be nothing more than that. She is quite independent and modern while S comes from a very traditional Hindu family. Both agreed there is nothing more than being very closed friends and partners.

It has been a long distance relationship till 3 months back she came to live in Mumbai.

She has been understood the reality that they don’t have expectation from each other, thus the relationship could be longer. But on the contrary, the reality is she relied on him more and more. She likes to just rely on his shoulder, just holds his hands and feel the warmth, just call him whenever she needs somebody to help. Those are very simple but always makes her satisfied.

One day, S told her that grandmother passed away and traditionally the whole families pushed him to get married. S feared. He doesn’t want his wings for dreams be cut down because of marriage. Of course she doesn’t want to see him get married, at least not so soon. “Be confident, fight for your dreams”, she encouraged him.

However, just on the second day, a beautiful weekend morning, the sunlight was shinning and the plants out side of the windows were so lovely. She thought maybe they would meet on the weekend. S texted one line to her:

“I will go back to Mumbai with my wife”.

The heart broken message, the dripping tears…..till that moment she understood there is no relationship without expectation…..what she thought is totally wrong. How could she rely on someone but no expectation? How could she spend so much time with someone happily but no expectation? How could she let someone leave her forever but no emotion happens inside?

“Being silent is the best way to deal with the emotion”. She has no words to S. Since they agreed with each other there is nothing more than “good friends”.

There will be a quite different future for S, yet or her there is just another solo journey awaiting.

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Mumbai-not just a stop of rove

There has been a rover living in my soul, my heart, my mind.

However, I am not only a rover any more when I walked out from Mumbai airport carrying two luggages filled with my staffs which are in a very small part of those I left in Taiwan. Yes, a very small part because my whole life, my memory, my families, my friends….are all be left behind the soul of a rover, my ego.

It has been more than two weeks passed since that humid day I was picked up and sent to the hotel, be tired but excited; be wondering but ready to explore. Since that day I am not a only a rover but also a resident in this city which I have been dreaming of.

The city which can’t even be compare with my native one: the city is mess, dusty, dirty, crowded, noisy….yes, can’t even be compare with my native one: the city is romantic,  lovely, kind, lush, active, easy….the city which has been waiting for me to do something and make my dream come true. Yet, what is the dream? Does it hide deeply inside of me and till now I even don’t find  what it is exactly calling me to do?

I am still wondering but somehow I feel there is something different inside. Most part of me is different. I smile for it is better than ever.

Life is definitely going to be normal, easy, or maybe it is without challenge when everything has been settled down. What else I can find for the rover inside?

Certainly it is my next,  keep going.

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One day I was in India-Gulmarg Gondola

Gulmarg is a place very few Taiwanese know.

It is worth visiting both in summer and winter which perform extremely different scenery. I visited there in the beginning of winter and hopefully I will go back in summer time.

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Gulmarg is a city in Kashmir state on north of India. Located at the altitude of 2650 meters. Average degree in summer time is at around 20 centigrade and minus 7~8 centigrade in winter.

The cable car is one of the most attractive in Gulmarg which known for the highest one in the world.

There are two phases of cable car in Gulmarg. Phase one is on the height of 3080 meters, phase two achieves to 3950 meters. Due to the changing weather in the mountain area it is difficult to predicted when the phase two cable car is available or not. My bad luck was when I arrived in the area the weather was too bad to go to phase two.

It is impossible to reserve tickets on official website. Guess the reason is because of the scalped tickets. There was only one ticket window for cable car tickets…

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