29 February 2012

Temple life

A few weeks ago I spent three days in a temple on the outskirts of Hyderabad. I had gone there during the temple's Brahmotsavam (annual festivities). I was especially interested in seeing the dance rituals which are performed here during this time. This is something I'll be writing about in more detail in my other blog.

The temple was an oasis of calm in a once rural area which is quickly becoming a neighbourhood of glass buildings housing IT companies and upmarket apartment complexes. Entering the temple was like stepping into another world where time had stopped.

The temple priests were busy from dawn to dusk with various prayers and rituals. I felt completely at home here and enjoyed loitering around and observing the goings-on. The atmosphere was completely different to other temples I've visited. Maybe because it's a small family-run temple off the tourist circuit.

A priest chanting Sanskrit verses. (To hear what this sounds like, click on 'temple priests chanting' in the right sidebar under 'Listen to the sounds of India'.) His mobile phone becomes a page marker.

Morning breathing exercises.

I'm not sure what was up here, but I'd love to know!

Priest paraphernalia.
I came across this priest setting up for what looked like an elaborate puja. He was sitting facing a blank wall.

This was the result. An offering to Surya, the sun god. I understood why he performed the puja here: he was facing east. Another example of how art is ritual and ritual is art.

The temple deity, Lord Ranganathaswamy (reclining Vishnu) is seen here in the temple sanctum.
The temple musicians.

10 February 2012

New rupee coins

Last week I got my first brand-new 10-rupee coin. I’m trying to remember where I got it. Maybe at the supermarket. I got maybe three or four at a time. I used one to pay the ironing man. He looked at it with surprise – it was the first time he was seeing one too.

I noticed that there have been many new coins introduced lately. So many that I have to carefully go through my coins so I don’t confuse them. At one point the new 2-rupee coin was the exact size as the 1-rupee coin. The old 2-rupee coin used to have an octagon shape, making it easy to differentiate from the others. But with the 1-rupee and 2-rupee coins looking almost exactly the same, it was easy to confuse them. More recently the 2-rupee coin is bigger and the 1-rupee coin smaller which seems more logical. The 5-rupee coin has also gone through various modifications. It used to quite a thick coin. Now it’s noticeably thinner and only very slightly bigger than the 1-rupee coin.

I looked through my change and found that I currently have four different 1-rupee coins, two different 2-rupee coins (the octagon shape is less common now), two different 5-rupee coins, and then there’s the brand new 10-rupee coin. There’s only one version of that for now. Let’s see what the India Government Mint comes up with next!

We’re a Top Blog!

Today I got a kind message from the editor of the Go Overseas website. They have selected India Outside My Window as a ‘Top Blog’. The message said:

“I loved reading India Outside My Window, and the editorial staff at GO! Overseas has selected it as one of the top blogs in India. We loved the photographs you have taken to supplement the words in your blog. My personal favorites are the ones of the trip to Pondicherry and of the Russell Market in Bangalore. As recognition of your outstanding skills we are delighted to include your blog in a select list of websites representing India. We select only the most exceptional blogs that meet our exacting standards and we hope you feel a sense of pride that you have been recognized for your efforts. You may view this list on our website here.”

Many thanks to Go Overseas for this recognition. It’s always nice to get feedback and know who’s reading!