7/24/2010 to 7/28/2010 | Himachal Pradesh , India

Monsoon Wedding in Manali

I’ve been through Manali often but I’ve never spent much time in the place.  I’m usually on my way up to Ladakh or Spiti anxious to reach my destination.  Malali has never really attracted me much though it’s a very popular destination for both Indian tourists and western backpackers.  Indians are drawn by the accessibility of snow on the nearby Rohtang pass, a condition that fascinates many Indians from the plains who have never encountered the frozen white substance.  They dress in rented Technicolor snow suits like a time warp to the 1980s and pay money to be towed around in sleds and slide down small hills on plastic sheets.  My four year stint in college in Iowa cured me of my fascination with snow for the sake of snow.  For the western backpackers it’s the cheap and relatively good quality hash that draws them to the region, as marijuana grows in abundance along the slopes and valleys surrounding Manali.  I’ve never been particularly partial to the stuff myself, though I have no problem with those that are, provided they aren’t obsessive to the point where every conversation revolves around the drug.   The area around Manali can be quite beautiful but the over abundance of both Indian tourists and stoned out backpackers mean that I usually prefer other parts of the Indian Himalaya that are just as beautiful and lack the copious amounts of the aforementioned groups.

I arrived in Manali after a long journey from Nepal via Delhi to rendezvous with an old family friend Tamara and her husband Kip who were towards the end of a year long trip around the world.  I planned to travel up to Ladakh with Tam and Kip where we hoped to do a bit of trekking.  Fortuitously a friend from my grad school days in Santa Barbara, Tim, was on his way down from Ladakh and I was able to meet up with him as well before he headed off.  It was a California reunion for a day in Manali.  I had intended to make a rather quick exit from Manali.  Tam and Kip had been there for a few days already and I was hoping they would be ready to go.  The weather conspired against us, foreshadowing things to come.  The monsoon had broken with particular severity this year the weather gods seemed to be making up for last year’s rather dry monsoon.  Landslides closed the road to Leh delaying our departure for a few days.  With a few wet days to kill in Manali I got around to doing some of the sightseeing I had never bothered to do.  Including a visit to the atmospheric Hadimba temple, where by chance we encountered a wedding party.  The rain fell as the couple carried out the necessary rituals.  Upon completion the party danced, to the sound of trumpets and drums not letting the rain of the monsoon lessen their enjoyment of the occasion.  They danced until they disappeared in the forest and rain from which they came to continue the festivities elsewhere, and the temple returned to serene silence.

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