Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Walk Down the Street

It's amazing how a simple Sunday afternoon walk can turn into something so wild. As soon as we came to the village (10 min from our house) we noticed a house decorated with flower garlands and palm branches. People were streaming in and out. We thought it might be a wedding or a birth. But as we continued our walk we followed the sound of drums to where we came upon a group of men making a stretcher out of bamboo poles, decorated with flowers and woven palm leaves. Now we understood - a funeral.
We carried on down a side street where a man came out to chat with us and invited us in for tea. We declined on the tea part but had a nice talk with him.

A little further on we heard more drums and saw a tractor pulling a big Ganesh. A rickshaw with three huge megaphones blared music as drummers and villagers followed along.

The group stopped outside a small temple and we watched from a shady spot as they formed a circle and danced. But then they spotted us and a couple guys came over. I thought they might tell us to leave - maybe this was another funeral. But their hands were outstretched and they beckoned us over saying, "You are most welcome to join us, you can take photos if you wish."
We were over there in a split second and it soon became an impromptu photo session. Kids and adults wanted us to take their photos and some of them took ours as well. One little lady with a toothless grin stuck right by me, pinning flowers in my hair, talking to me in Hindi and posing for pictures - but no matter how many I took she wouldn't smile for the camera!

Then the drummers started again and the men wanted Michael to dance with them. He smiled but wouldn't, so they started dancing around him. Next the drummers formed a circle and one guy crouched down in the middle. He looked possessed or like a snake and did some strange facial and body movements. This went on for awhile with the crazy loud music and hypnotic drumming. Then a bunch of men jumped in the circle and they all danced wildly.

Eventually they stopped and the rickshaw and the tractor started to move down the street. The villagers followed and we waved goodbye. But they went no more than 100 meters and they stopped and started the music and dancing all over again. We have no idea what this was all about. Perhaps we'll go back next week and try to find out.

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