Sunday, December 31, 2006

Day 4: Temples on every tree

The Footprints guide that Nick has in his bag says this about Tamil Nadu:

"About 90 of the 60-million stron Tamil population is Hindu and religious ritual here is lived and breathed: mens's foreheads are given over to great daubs of potash, huge sweeps or fingernail-thin red edges drawn from the hair's centre-parting sideways, and women sprinkle 'kolam' of ground rice powder on the freshly water-packed earth outside their homes in a routine as mundane as brushing their teeth."

We raced through Tamil Nadu and although we saw a lot of things at 40km/h we didn't really get a good look at anything. But Andhra Pradesh had it's own little surprises.

The little stop off at the mechanics was really useful and we got an opportunity to chat to the locals and while the other Dosas sat around chatting in the hut I walked round the back to the fields to check out the chickens and the miserable looking cow (no jokes about my ex-girlfriend please).

While back there, chatting with the kids I noticed the some of the trees were painted with these red and yellow patterns and I had to ask about them. It appears that each Banyan tree is painted as a temple to the gods with some sorts of mythical symbols, I think each one unique to whatever god it is that's being worshipped there. Trying to communicate with the locals wasn't always easy, but it was always rewarding

Later on when I got back to the rickshaw I read the rest of the Tamil Nadu entry, which goes on to say:

"...but nor is worship confined to the feats of architecture that dot Tamil Nadu. Any Banyan Tree you pass will be dangling with cow births; tridents are slammed into the ground to create makeshift mounds of worship; village gods in life-size stucco renderings bare their teeth and brandish knives at every roadside"

And here we were at a roadside with a cow a makeshift mound of worship and a load of village gods.

Rural India is amazing.


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