Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Modern India

I found a book on the Gutenberg Project for the Kindle that I quite enjoyed called Modern India. But it was written 110 years ago; despite this, the observations are quite similar.
Barbers still set up anywhere on the side of the road and start snipping awayP1030149
India is still animal-loving. Now I know why Rudyard Kipling lived in India and produced The Jungle BookP1020854
P1020956Serious-looking men still wear the most interesting combination of colors
P1010717 Large groups of men wearing turbans still can gather around you without notice
Saris are still the clothing of choice
Half-dressed Indian children scamper about unattended
The vehicles have changed of course, and correspondingly pollution has followed. There were 1 million people in Calcutta back then, which at that time was overpopulated too.
Some things have changed in urban India but not in rural. In rural India, the Indian form of abortion still takes place…
Female babies are killed instantly at birth because they are unwanted due to their expensive dowry…
I was shocked when I heard this; then I realized that these women, if they had a way to kill the baby before it was born, would do it. But they have no access to legal baby killing (abortion) so they have to wait til the baby is born to do it…
And the tradition of widows having to throw themselves alive on the pyres of their husbands has mostly been blotted out, but widows can still become outcasts…
Hindu idol worship continues, with temples set up in each house, alongside of the road, everywhere…
We went to the Kali temple. You buy sweets and flowers, leave your shoes at the sweets shop, and walk in your stocking feet to the humongous temple of Kali. There we stood in line waiting as the line of Indians snaked around and around to go inside the temple. No cameras were allowed.
The reason the temple closed was because the priest was preaching to Kali. “Why does the priest preach to the goddess, and not to the people?” I asked. “Because Kali likes it” was the reply.
It was so hot—tropical wet smuggy hot, and the sweat dripped down our faces as we stood in the crowded waiting area and listened to drums and cymbals so loud and constant that no speaking was possible. When the doors finally opened people angrily shouted and shoved their way in, threw their flowers and sweets and 5  (even numbers are bad luck) rupees at the priests, got them back almost instantly, and shoved their way out again. It was….interesting.
Then we went across the way to the Shiva temples. Shiva is married to Kali. We walked in a circle around the temples for good luck and clanged the bells. Shiva looks like a pot.
Hinduism is steeped much more in tradition and culture than logic. The religion doesn’t seem to dictate that many morals, yet the Indians are such good people. Very interesting.  P1030019  P1030077 P1030095 P1030093
And hooray for India, they have just made it a law that elementary education is mandatory for all children in India up to age 14! Progress!

1 comment:

The Elledges said...

I love the new look of your blog! especially the wedding picture!

The culture in India sound so rich. and the food looks so good I was seriously getting hungry reading about all the different flavors.

You have to come visit us when you get back to the states!

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