Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Saturday, May 27, 2017


Mahabalipuram was our goal for this morning.

Stopped At a Small Temple Where a Wedding Had Just
Taken Place - Here Are the Bride and Groom
But She Is Not Wearing a Traditional Red Sari

Lakuma explained on the way some details about marriage. The women on board the bus liked this info. A woman in India needs to be 21 years old before she can marry. It's the law, and its strict. Arranged marriages depend on the outcome of the astrologer’s predictions, a 50% compatibility rate is a minimum. I know there are different ways to look at the charts. There are different methodologies used. What is needed is the exact date of your birth and the exact time you were born. The place of birth also matters. Finding a wife (the right wife) is important because she is with you through the next 7 lifetimes.

In South India the bride traditionally wears a maroon Sari, in the north a red one. The groom ties a gold pendent on a gold thread around the bride’s neck. A paste of cumin on a betel leaf is put on each other's head while the priest recites that they must look after each other and share everything. Then they go to the groom’s house where the bride must cook a meal for her in-laws. That is the first test of her suitability. Celebrations will last 10 days, and then they go on a honeymoon. On the 9th day there is a huge feast put on by the groom’s family. In India you are allowed to marry 1st cousins in some situations, i.e. your father’s sister’s children.
The Bride and Her Parents

The divorce rate for arranged marriages is very low (almost 0 %) because both families give full support and help to the marriage. If you want to remarry after a divorce (10% divorce rate in ‘love’ marriages) you need permission from your children if they are 12 years old or older. You also need legal divorce papers before you can remarry. Homosexuality happens unofficially and is not covered in the Indian constitution. It is advised to read the abridged version of the Kama Sutra to understand relationships in India..

One of the Carved Stone Temples At Mahabalipuram

OK, we have arrived at Mahabalipuram. This is a very small village on an ancient coastal port containing five monolithic rocks, each huge rock carved into a temple, each rock pure granite. It is a UNESCO site.

At first, it looks not that impressive but then, after reading about this place, I became aware it is a very old trading center. This spot was coveted even by the Chinese in BCE.  Chinese coins found provided the proof. It is not just these first few, old rocks we saw, it is the whole area that was known even to the Romans, and again Roman coins were found here. Marco Polo mentioned this place in his travel log. Especially the seven pagodas of which only one stands today, having weathered many a
The Shore Temple Also Called the Lighthouse Pagoda - the Temple Carved Out of One Block of Granite

cyclone and tidal wave assault. The last assault to this lonely pagoda was in 2004 when the famous tsunami from Indonesia landed here and moved about 2 meters high inland, destroying much for about 500 meters inland. But the same tsunami also washed away sand and exposed a lion and an elephant sculpture which had been buried.
A Whole Wall of Carvings

Details of the Wall of Carvings
This lighthouse pagoda had sisters and brothers all gone by now, taken by the ocean. Near this shore spot on the Bay of Bengal are huge rock boulders in a kind of a park setting, mostly carved into temples, wall carvings, pagodas, statues in different architectural styles. It is believed this area was a school for sculptors since some of the carvings were not finished. A test by modern sculptors, trying to recreate some carvings in soft sandstone found it takes 60 days to just do a 4 foot section in sandstone. With hard granite it must have taken hundreds of men to do these carvings. And calculating the amount of work, those hundreds needed

decades to do what is carved here. While most of what remains today is from the 7th century, it is a site that proves India traded with all kinds of nations long, long ago, not just with the EIC.  Amazing India!

One of the rocks in the park is uncut and original, left alone. The locals call it Krishna’s butterball, it does look like that. Like a ball of butter balanced on a slanted surface. I tried to push it over, as others also tried, but nobody was a Hercules.
Kids Were Having Fun Sliding Down
the Sandy, Rocky Slope - So Why Not?
Holding Up This Gigantic Rock

For lunch we stopped in a wonderful hotel restaurant. It was modern, perfectly clean, neatly dressed people were around who were well trained, great food and smiles all around us. An Indian woman approached our table hearing us speak English. She wore western clothing, kind of like a western business suit for women. We had been told she was a Canadian from the west coast and owns and runs this hotel/restaurant. She does everything the Western way and it shows. The place is like a Swiss clock, it is run perfectly. This place is a winner.
The View From Our Lunch Room at L' Attitude Restaurant
On the way back to our hotel, in the bus, Lakuma touched on the difficulties facing modern India. As in the Western world, women today need to work in order to make ends meet. As in any other place, education costs money, and money does not grow on trees. People get old and fragile, where do you put them? People in India retire at age 58. The old setup in India with the parents being taken care of within the family is deteriorating because the modern family in India is westernizing. How do you really feel about women's rights? The discussions were about total equality, even in getting paid equally and letting women do men’s jobs and vise versa. Whatever we face in the West, India faces as well, only more so because India has such a strong family culture. The extended family in India goes back for generations, everything is interconnected.
Many Women Work Hard

I was told Hindus have essential people in their life, people that are needed for every Hindu. I wrote about it earlier. Those people are a blessing but can hold you back too, especially if you feel you need to care for all of them, as in an extended family. What to do? The courts do not have all the answers. The issue of 2 men wanting to get married has passed all lower courts but the case has been stuck at the Supreme Court of India for the last 10 years. It now demands a constitutional ruling, setting a huge precedence for the future, affecting many related issues.

A Few Women Ride Their Own Mopeds But They Have to
Change Their Style of Dress and They Do Not Like to Cover
Their Hair With a Helmet.
How do you legally handle all of that? The western nations are not alone in working out the rules for the new world. India has a heritage that is amazing, beautiful and very complex. India went through many changes; the people who lived along the Indus River millennia ago had a different life. Alexander the Great, Islam, Christianity, Imperialism, the EIC, the Moguls etc. all had a huge effect on India but also India affected them, too. It was and is a reversal influence, a mix of experiences, beliefs and cultures. India somehow keeps on functioning. Sure they have traffic rules, but drive in India for awhile and you will see that traffic flows well even ignoring all those rules. India will solve her issues, one day at a time. And we all can learn from how India somehow manages.

We need to go to bed early tonight; we need to get up at 3 am for the train ride to Mysore tomorrow.

No comments: