Many of the things I had expected from our time in Delhi – productive blog posting for one – didn’t turn up in the end. 🙂 We spent just over two weeks there. I’d had visions of all sorts of activities, but ended up being laid up by a potent and lingering chest cold, circumstance and inertia. The primary purpose of our time there was to support my friend Ritu and that I think we managed to do that well, so it’s all good.
Beyond that, our third (my fourth) stay in Delhi comprised mostly eating tons of excellent, home-cooked food, lots of relaxation (sometimes enforced – as an invalid in a household with five women, I got mothered a lot and got to try out Indian home remedies like pure ginger juice tempered with honey – hotcha!), a bit of retail therapy and time with Ritu and her family.
One big highlight for me was the puja that was held at the house the day before we left. Ritu arranged for the family priest from the local temple to come by to perform a private ritual of blessing for the house and its inhabitants (us included. :-)). He was a very sweet, little old man who has apparently been doing pujas for the family for decades.
The ceremony was simple but lovely. The priest prepares a space on the floor with all the implements of the ceremony – fire, oil, incense. Food, flowers and money that are symbolically sacrificed to the deities invoked. The priest is singing mantras during the whole thing; at certain points we were to join in and it felt SO great when suddenly I recognized the Gayatri mantra from my yoga practice and could sing along. It has been months since I last chanted anything and boy did it make me hungry for some yoga practice. 🙂 (Hopefully not too much longer till I get onto a mat!)
At other times during his chanting, he would give us rice or mithai (sweets) in our right hand which we would then need to offer up to the gods invoked, or we would have to throw a mixture of (if I remember correctly), grain and spices into a fire. During the second half of the puja, he wound red string around each of our wrists – a blessing to carry on from the ceremony. After it was all said and done, the house was full of sacred smoke – we had to set the fans to high and open all the doors and windows and it still took ages to clear. The priest was pleased though – now the house was thoroughly blessed. 😉
There’s more to write about Delhi and other things, but the new day is calling and we have lots we want to see. 🙂
Just to get completely caught up before I go, we’ve left India’s capital now and I am writing this from the private rooftop terrace of our hotel in Mumbai. It’s an overcast, quiet Sunday morning and my only company is a mob of crows who are performing their morning ablutions in a nearby pan of water or are otherwise just sitting about curiously glaring at me. 🙂 We only have a weekend in Mumbai. So far I am really loving it – and will try to write more about it later. 🙂