Over two years ago, I had a wonderful experience in Pushkar. My tour group got the chance to take part in a Hindu blessing ceremony in Rajasthan, India. We were given traditional clothes to wear and even ended up in the local newspaper! It was incredibly special. Below are my memories of what happened, written at the time.
I could feel something different as soon as we arrived. A magnetic effect that this small town seems to have. The dusty roads and paths reveal a hive of activity. Sellers with bright, colourful wares for sale, spice and food smells flowing from road side vendors and the warm glow of the sun radiating heat from high in the sky. I step onto the main pathway through the streets of Pushkar and take in the sounds, smells and sights of this new place. I’m in cotton and silk clothes, layered and wrapped with precision. Local people turn to look as we walk past; foreigners in traditional dress. Where we are heading, we need to be dressed properly.
I can feel the flutter of excitement as we turn and head towards the holy lake. Many people have come on pilgrimages before us to this holy Hindu site, thought to have been created by Brahma. We are in one of the oldest existing cities in India and one of the five sacred dhams (pilgrimage sites) for devout Hindus. As we step down to the lake, the noises and action of the streets suddenly dim and we are in relative quiet. The water is full of steady ripples and our movements slow. There is a very distinct energy. A stillness.
A silver plate gleams in my hands against the bright midday sun. It holds vivid red and orange dyes, a pile of rice grains and delicate pink flower petals. I sit with our group of travellers, in traditional silk clothes we have been offered, at the edge of the lake. I watch as Hindu pilgrims bathe and pray in fluid, distinct movements. The murmur of well-practised chants and the ripple of the water are the only background noises. We are told that this lake in Pushkar, India is believed to be sacred and all Hindu people will pilgrimage here once in their lives.
The Hindu blessing ceremony begins and the red dye is placed on my forehead with a grain of rice, symbolising that I should never hunger. We all chant in repetition with the monk; Sanskrit words dancing on our tongues. After sitting in silence contemplating my blessings, my wrist is bound with a thread. The strand slowly encircling my wrist as the monk whispers a language with ancient meaning to me. I carry my plate to the edge of the lake and gently release the contents into the water, watching the petals flutter and feeling a great sense of peace.
I would recommend visiting Pushkar in Rajasthan if you are travelling there. The tour I did was with G Adventures and I had the trip of a lifetime. I personally love the style and activities in the tours provided by G Adventures and they don’t pay me to say that! Below is the evidence of our local fame. An unforgettable experience.