Sight & Sound 12 – contrast

7 08 2008

At sunset we walked down to the temple in Rudraprayag to attend the Aarti Ceremony.

chasing the sunset

It was a huge contrast to the massive event we were at in Rishikesh. This was a tiny local ceremony, where everything seemed very domestic and relaxed. The sound system didn’t work very well, but it didn’t seem to matter. I’m always wary about intruding – I’m not Hindu, I’m just a curious observer of other cultures – but my reserve was met with enthusiastic encouragement to come and sit at the heart of things and to participate. I wish I didn’t feel so awkward and ambivalent about that kind of situation.

The ceremony was led by a tiny, elderly woman with a deeply lined and very beautiful face. She had a powerful and calm presence. Though I would have loved to have a photograph of her, I didn’t feel it was appropriate to take one. I hope my mental picture doesn’t fade.

Sitting and soaking up the sounds of the Ganga and singing, watching the light change and the birds flying over the water, then standing scattering an offering of leaves and petals on the Ganga made me very calm and tuned in to my surroundings.

— Elizabeth

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