28 March 2007

Lord Rama's birthday bash

Above: A temple priest decorates the idol.

This hasn’t been a good week for getting a good night’s sleep. This is not only because of the summer heat which is settling in day by day and the mosquitoes who must be nature’s tiniest but most annoying creatures. Last weekend one of our neighbours had a big party with very loud music. Luckily they turned it down around 1:00 or 2:00 am so it wasn’t all-night torture. But last night was a party of a different kind and this morning I feel like I got hardly any sleep at all because of festivities going on at the temple on the main road. Yesterday was Rama Navami, which celebrates the birth of Lord Rama, and the temple priests and locals gave him a birthday bash to remember.

I knew something was up when I noticed the colourful garlands of lights put up in the main road by the temple. From the kitchen window I observed a group of women busy sweeping the small temple just behind the house and drawing huge kolam-s (decorative patterns drawn with rice powder - see one of my previous posts below) on the ground with intricate and beautiful patterns. Several of the houses in the neighbourhood also had kolam-s gracing their doorsteps which were more decorative and elaborate that usual. During the past few evenings there were loud processions of musicians playing the nagaswaram (a very loud horn-like wind instrument played on festive occasions) and tavil (a double-sided barrel shaped drum which usually accompanies the nagaswaram) in front of the temple on the main road. But yesterday was the grand finale of Lord Rama’s feast.

The loud and frenetic drumming signalled that the musicians were back in full force (and full volume). From the roof I couldn’t see much so I walked over to the main road to have a better look. A temple priest was busy decorating the idol, which was set up in a cart pulled by a tractor, with garlands of colourful flowers. A few metres away, a small crowd watched as the drummers banged out intricate rhythms accompanied by equally energetic and frenetic dancing from a group of men.

At midnight the party was stilling going on… the music was so incredibly loud that I had the impression the musicians were on our doorstep. There were moments of respite when the drumming ceased and some (equally loud) bhajan-s were played over the sound system. At least these devotional songs were more soothing and I felt like I just might be able to sleep. I think I did manage to catch a few winks before the energetic drumming started again and bolted me awake. This was followed by very loud fireworks which I could see from the bedroom window. And so continued Rama’s birthday bash the whole night long… drumming, shouting, loud music and the occasional BOOM! of fireworks. Needless to say, I didn’t hear the alarm clock this morning…

1 comment :

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