We got a delayed start to class, but only by 15 minutes, because today was traditional Indian dress day! Last night I bought a bright red kurta that has gold trim with some blue and green in it as well. At first, I thought the color was a bit much and an eye sore, but the second I walked into class I was greeted excitedly by countless people with compliments such as “you look truly grand!” and “this kurta is grand”. It turned out to be a great choice of color and design. Even the professors individually complimented me on my attire. Todays class was in the upstairs class which I think affected wifi. We quickly settled in and Professor Mehta got going on lectures. The morning always flies by, especially today because the Chai break was longer than usual. Everyone was taking pictures for a while. I gave Anvita my phone to take a picture of me and someone else, and I didn’t get it back for 20 minutes. At one point I saw Riya with it… When I did finally get it back, there had to be 100+ pictures on there with half of them not including me haha. Pictures were very fun though. At one point, I was sitting on the seat-steps on the windows with ricky and a few indian students, when Yuan came up and squatted behind us. He did something weird and got nudged and started to fall backwards.. into the window which was wide open with no protector. Someone managed to grab yuan before he fell out of a 2 story window.. Everyone was able to laugh it off but it could have been a very bad situation. We went back into class and finished up the time before lunch with group work.
Lunch was great today. They went the whole 9 yards because of traditional day so it was special food. I sat with a big of people including Riya, anvita, ricky, and a few others. At one point Sophia pulled me aside and proposed the idea that we have an independent study next semester with Professor Mehta and work on a marketing plan together to help promote the India program and potentially give aide to the orphanage. I agreed immediately!
After lunch I went and hung outside with Fiaba for a bit. We hung out with the stray dog who is around a lot. Just as we were talking abut how its as if were famous here (because of the number of people that as for pictures with us) a big group of young girls from the school next to the college walked by and half of them ran over saying hi and shaking our hands as if we were celebrities.
At the end of the afternoon, we left class to go back to the scholar house around 4:45. When we got back, kids were letting out of school again and we got swarmed. Ricky, Fiaba, and Sophia brought out candy again which always makes them go crazy. I got a bunch of great pictures with the kids. Another example of how we are looked at like celebrities here… Every single time they walk up and go “Hi” and shake hands.
Shortly after that we were ready to head to the temple/market with Moukoun. The 3 wheeler ride to the temple was great as always. We went down side roads which was awesome because I hadn’t really seen those parts too much. We got to the temple and it was a beautiful building on top of a hill. We took our shoes off at the bottom and walked up the stairs with little kids to the top. I held one little boys hand to help him get up there. The temple was absolutely beautiful with gold elephants at the bottom of the building stairs. We would hear the loud singing even from the bottom of the stairs, so when we got to the temple, it was almost intimidating walking in. The room was separated, boys on the left, and girls on the right, with a split down the middle so that the gods can walk down the middle and bless everyone. The ceremony was beautiful with two people singing, two people playing small symbols for sound effect, and one person banging on a bongo. Front and center was a large sculpture of the god Sai Baba, who accepts people of all religions, so it was acceptable for us to be there. He was draped in a pink robe with a purple scarf on, multiple necklaces, and a large flower necklace on. There was a lot more around / on him but I cant remember because the decoration was so extensive that I found myself trying to memorize what was there mid ceremony so I could remember. We stood there for a while, but eventually sat down and mokoun told us only 2 more minutes. At the end of the ceremony, we all got in line, walked up to the front, gave our flowers to a man who put them infront of Saii Baba, and then prayed to him. There was a plaque directly infront of him with silver feet prints which we put our hands on, rested our head on them, and then continued out the side door. We waited for Fiaba and erin to be done since all of the boys went first. Then, to complete the ceremony, we had to walk around the temple 5 times which was not very far at all. We then walked down the stairs to the main platform where there was a large pot of rice and everyone got a small bowl to eat with their hands. We saw a huge fat yellow lab looking dog which was unusual because all of the dogs thus far looked frail and malnourished. There were also two smaller buildings on the side which we walked through for more prayer. This was an awesome experience and most likely once in a life time unless im back in India at any point. Especially great because it was Thursday, which is a special day for this temple, as everyone attends on Thursdays.
This day was a staple in my experience here in India. I learned so much about Indian culture and got to experience it first hand. It was a day which I will never forget.