Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Have a Pondicherry Christmas

The French were kicked out of Pondicherry a good decade or so after the English left the rest of India, so the east side of the canal running through the city something of a "Little Paris". While walking home on December 24th there was some celebratory commotion a few blocks down. The source was a massive Cathedral hosting a midnight mass, and throngs of Indians in the church and many more spilling out into the courtyard to listen to the mass in Tamil language.

I've been here in Pondicherry for the past 3 days, not because it's magnificent, but rather I'm just a bit lazy and taking time to build of travel momentum. Today I'll move to Tiruvannamalai, one of the most important pilgramage spots in Southern India. During each full moon, thousands of pilgrims come to worship. The full moon isn't until the Friday after next (it's a pity that stellar objects don't adjust themselves to accomodate my travel plans) so I'll miss that.

I've purchased a full set of Southern Indian garb - a sarong and white collared top, and "dish towel" to dab the sweat. I feel very regal walking the streets.

I wandered into a large Hindu temple last night to find some sort of ceremony taking place. I was urged to join and watch. Afterwards I was served a vegetarian Indian dinner, served on banana leaf (my Christmas dinner). It was perfect. I later learned it was a 60th wedding anniversary, and that the 60th wedding anniversary is a very important one, celebrated with as if it were a new wedding.

While heading home with a friend, we more sounds of celebration coming from inside a building. At first the guard outside was reluctant to permit us entry, but finally gave in. Inside was a rather bizarre scene. An Indian band played on a stage and everywhere there were Indian men (no women!) dancing and drinking with great enthusiasm. Like everything else, closing time came soon, at about 9:30.

Until next time...

No comments: