| India , Maharastra

A Festive Arrival to Nasik (Nashik)

As I arrived in Nasik (Nashik) it was apparent there was something going on.  There were statues set up on nearly every street corner and music was blaring at a volume that surpassed the speakers’ ability to render an undistorted sound in typical the louder the better Indian esthetic.  An esthetic that is most commonly manifested in Bollywood tunes blaring from cell phones on buses, but this particular event showed that it carried on to larger speakers as well.

It took me a bit of walking to find a hotel in my meager price range, but when I did it was nice enough place, the room didn’t smell too bad, and on an Indian cleanliness scale it racked about average meaning condemn by western standards.  The friendly proprietor of said hotel informed me that there was indeed a festival today celebrating the birth of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj father of the Maratha nation, and a procession was to take place that evening in his honor.  I grabbed my camera and headed out to photograph the festivities.  I was in the midst of wandering through the procession of performers and floats (decorated trucks) when a police officer approached me and asked me to show him my passport.  A large crowd soon gathered around me and the officer.  I tried to explain to the officer that I will show him my passport but not in the middle of the street with a hundred onlookers, as I was not particularly fond of whipping out my money belt to get my passport and showing everyone where I had all my valuables.  He at first misunderstood thinking I was refusing to show him which prompted a speech about how I can’t walk around without ID.  I eventually got him to understand and I showed him my passport in a nearby police kiosk.  He offered tea which I politely declined anxious to speed through this bureaucratic red tape to get back on the street while there was still some light. He then told me to go back to my hotel, probably fearing for my safety in the crowd of celebrating Hindus.  A request I flatly refused stating that I had not traveled all the way to Indian from my country to look at the inside of a hotel room, I came to see the culture and festivals.  He didn’t try to deter me further figuring he had covered his own ass by warning me, and now this stubborn foreigner was on his own.  Coming close on the heals of Holi, and preceding Rang Panchami (the Maharashtra Holiday five days after Holi which is celebrated with the throwing of color similar to the way Holi is celebrated elsewhere) ensured that there was plenty of colored powder around for this celebration.  Apparently many thought that the birth of Shivaji was as good a reason as any to throw colored powder.  Large trucks carrying walls of speakers and a DJ platform preceded groups of dancing males as pink and orange powder rained down on them from above.  After I had had enough of the festivities I returned to my hotel slightly more orange than when I had left courtesy of the exuberant powder throwing youths.

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