Saturday, August 20, 2011

Travels Part II

So this past week was awesome. Here are some of the highlights:

1) Aug 15 was India's Independence Day. We went to the Ashram where they raised the flag. It was a nice little ceremony. Something that they do that I enjoy is before opening the flag they fill it with flowers so when it's up in the air all the flowers fall like confetti. And then every one hands out candy and sings the national anthem. After the Ashram we went to a park in Coimbatore where they had lots of dancing, music, etc. etc. to celebrate. All the kids in the villages nearby had been practicing for months to prepare for performing at the park, it was really hot and really well done. While we were there the press asked us to take a picture by India's flag. I felt like I was famous. Literally, there were so many reporters taking pictures I didn't know where to look. And a big crowd of people formed around us, who were all taking our pictures too. It was pretty fun. The next day we were in not 1 but 3 newspapers!!!!! The Hindu, The Indian Express, and another one in Tamil. And those were just the ones that I looked at, I think we were in more. Don't worry, I got multiple copies for everyone to see and I will give you all my autograph when I get home =)

2) We went to the state of Karnataka just north of us to the cities of Mysore and Bylakupe. I got to go to a Tibetan displacement camp which was really neat. The camp has an interesting dynamic in that the families live in India and it is their "home" but really it is not their home. They come from a completely different culture. We spoke with many of the store owners who told us about how their parents/grandparents fled Tibet and came to south India. They were given this land by the Indian government but when they settled here it was a jungle area, so they had to clear the area first. It would be such a difficult situation to live in.
While we were there we went to the Buddhist Golden Temple that's in the center of a Monk monastery. This was so incredible! The Golden temple was gorgeous and it was so quiet and peaceful. While we were there they had a school training where many young monks came to pray and give offerings. I got to be in the temple when this happened and it was sooooooo incredible to see! They all recited the mantras together and there were specific parts where they blew horns, rang bells, burned incense etc. etc. etc.It was a rich sight to see. It was also completely relaxing, as i left I realized how relaxed my body was.

3) We also went to an elephant interaction camp where I got to ride an elephant! It was fun and way far up. They also showed us how they feed and bath the elephants in the middle of the Indian jungle. If you paid you were able to help wash the elephants, but I decided against it when I saw one of the elephants enter the water and go to the bathroom. I was not about to pay to go into dirty water....but it was cool to see the washing process regardless. And the the way they ride the elephants is cool too. They sit near the head and put their feet behind each ear, it's kind of like using the gas pedals in the car. I want a pet elephant now!

4) Finally we went to the Mahajara's Palace in Mysore, It was huge and beautiful! Mysore is a cool place mostly because it worships a female deity named Chamundi. She is the royal family's principle god and protector. She is known for killing a demon who was half human. He received a boon from Shiva (or Vishnu..I can't remember) that allowed him not to be killed by the hands of man. So Parvathi (the wife of Shiva),in the form of Chamundi, came down and killed the beast and saved humankind from his wickedness.It is an awesome story and city.

So those were some of my adventures for the week! Until next time....

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