Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Vanares and the Puja Dog

Puja Dog. Only in India, and probably only in Vanares. If you ever want to come to India and see "real" India, Vanares is the place. Vanares is where they host funerals for the recently passed away. Along the Ganga River, the funerals are open for any passerby to witness. They burn the bodies with large fires while offering certain prayers for the deceased. No pictures were taken of this as it is quite disrespectful. Again the River Ganga is said to be extremely holy in Hinduism, and to die here is seen as a blessing from the Gods and instant access to heaven or a good afterlife or rebirth. Everyone has their own idea about the afterlife.In the evening, the people of Vanares perform a public puja, or prayer or offering, that is visited by many foreigners, Indian tourists, and locals as well. There are two main platforms along the River Ganga where the young Hindu practitioners gather to participant in the devotional dance and prayer offering to the Gods. It may be difficult to see in the picture above, but there are many people who arrive in a boat to witness the Puja and watch from the river. It is quite a scene, viewing the platforms in the foreground and the many boats in the near yet fading distance. The Hindus pray to a multitude of Gods, so if you are ever in any sort of trouble, you can pick a God, any God, for your issues to dissolve. The favorite I have found, and also a favorite of mine, is Ganesh, the elephant headed God. This is the God that removes obstacles. Typically, Ganesh is prayed to before any other God, so as to remove whatever may be in the way for the next God to be worshipped.Oh, this guy! Just one of the characters that catches your attention and just want to stare at. Well, this is just what I did. At first, I stood at a distance and secretly shot photos of him, maybe because I was afraid he would pull some Shiva mystical powers out and strike me down - Shiva is the God of destruction. It turned out, after slyly snapping some shots, he glanced over my way and invited me over. I learned he not only is a Shiva follower, but also the head of a local orphanage. What an outfit though! This may be my next Halloween costume.

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