July 16th, 2012
The Bonalu festival is in progress in Hyderabad right now, a festival to appease the Goddess Parvathi, she is angry and must be calmed down with cool foods like yogurt and sacrifices.
We went yesterday on our comfy air conditioned bus to one of the temples. The bus stopped a couple blocks away and we left our shoes on the bus and walked through the streets, the wet streets as it finally started raining these past couple days, and made our way to the temple. Shoes must never be worn in any sacred place. They are dirty and should not contaminate the sacred place. We entered and there was a long line of people waiting to go into the temple chamber. It looked like a ride at Great America, with those windy rows of metal bars to hold the line, same deal. Except we got to cut to the front of the line and go in at light speed, walk in walk past the statue of something (dunno what it was too quick and confusing to look) and were handed some plastic bangles and out we went. From there we were dabbed on our foreheads with turmeric and our feet painted with a yellow turmeric paste. Feet are very dirty and un-sacred, so when an elder touches your feet you must touch their shoulder to show your appreciation for it.
Next we went to a second are within the temple grounds, less crowded and we got a much better look at the statues of the gods. And then we were each given a plastic baggy of yummy rice ate it with our fingers, I’m getting much better at this! There was also a long line to get your chickens and goats (but mostly chickens) sacrificed. It costs 2 rupees and that includes the de feathering prep for cooking.
The vegetarians however, (not all Hindus are vegetarian, some are non-veg as they say, and they eat chicken and goat and sheep), they sacrificed…. PUMPKINS! There were remains of some sorry pumpkins lying about on the streets.
Then in the evening we attended a performance of Indian fusion music here on campus put on for us (CIEE students that is). Walking back for dinner at dusk, a strange thing flew overhead. At least twice as big as a crow and looking an awful lot like a bat. No I said, that can’t possibly be a bat. Another one flew by. I’ve never seen a bird with wings like that… well back in the dorms with internet… yea. It was a bat. The biggest bat in the world: Indian Flying Fox, FOUR FOOT WING SPAN.