6/23/2011 to 6/26/2011 | Assam , India

Ambubachi Mela

Swimming in the rain, Ambubachi Mela, Kamakhya Mandir, Guwahati


Shiva’s wife Sati (an incarnation of Kali) is said to have been dismembered into 51 pieces which fell across India, her genitalia, yoni, fell on Kamakhya hill.  The annual Ambubachi Mela celebrates the mother goddess, Kamakhya’s, menstrual cycle.  Apparently for goddesses “that time of the month” comes once a year.  In respect […]

6/20/2011 to 6/22/2011 | India , Nagaland

World Music Day, Naga Style

World Music Day concert in Dimapur


Aiyush was both covering and promoting a concert marking World Music Day in Dimapur, the Nagaland City on the border with Assam.  I accepted his invitation to come along.  Our first stop was a concert/contest for local bands, an event that Aiyush for good reason disavowed any connection with.  He was covering […]

6/16/2011 to 6/20/2011 | Assam , India


Kamakhya Mandir before the Ambubachi Mela, Guwahati


I had passed through Guwahati on a number of occasions always en route to somewhere else more interesting. But I had never really given the city a shot, being turned off by relatively high price of accommodation, at least that in which foreigners are permitted to stay.  Despite a wall full of […]

4/28/2011 to 4/29/2011 | India , Mizoram

Saiha: Land of the Mara

Traditional Mara dance during a cultural program in Saiha


After spending Easter in Aizawl I headed south to explore the southern reaches of this hill covered state.  Prior to removal of the restricted area permit for foreigners visiting Mizoram on the first of the year, tourists who did obtain a permit were only allowed to visit the region around Aizawl.  This […]

4/5/2011 | India , Nagaland

Aoling in Mon

Aoling festival in Mon


We left the quite village of Shiyong making a day trip into Mon town to view the official Aoling celebration, a program of traditional dance organized by the district government.  While not as intimate as the village celebrations, the mass of dancers made for good photography, and we as foreign guests were […]

4/1/2011 to 4/4/2011 | India , Nagaland

Aoling in Shiyong

Aoling, Shiyong, Nagaland


Fresh off the Meitei festival of Yaoshang, in Imphal, I headed further northeast to my friend Phejin’s village of Shiyong in Nagaland, to partake in another festival, the Konyak festival of Aoling.  Being so close, a relative term in India given that it took a day and a half to reach Shiyong […]

3/24/2011 | India , Manipur

Halangkar Part II: Dance of the Maidens

Halangkar, the last day of Yaoshang, Imphal


Halangkar concludes with a dance by the young women from the locality around the Bejoy Govinda Temple.  Dressed in hooded white dresses speckled with pink dye, hiding their faces, they traditionally perform the last dance of the festival.  After which the idols of the Bejoy Govinda and Sri Govindjee temples are returned […]

3/24/2011 | India , Manipur

Halangkar Part I: Processions and Dancing

Halangkar, the last day of Yaoshang, Imphal


The festival of Yaoshang (Holi) in Imphal ends spectacularly with Halangkar.  While the opening day festivities are held at the Sri Govindjee temple, the final days events take place at an open field adjacent to the Bejoy Govinda Temple.  The idols from both the Sri Govindjee and the Bejoy Govinda Temples are […]

3/21/2011 to 3/23/2011 | India , Manipur

Yaoshang: Water Wars, Ropes, and Sports

Sack race during sports festival, Yaoshang


The days of Yaoshang are a festive time in Imphal.  The entire city is caught up in the celebration.   Young girls man ropes across the streets demanding a small “tax” to pass, while marauding groups of young boys and teenagers roam the streets armed with water balloons, buckets, and dye looking to […]

3/20/2011 | India , Manipur

Yaoshang: Dancing at the Sri Govindaji Temple

Devotees dancing at Sri Govindaji Temple for Yaoshang, Imphal


From all across the Imphal valley buses, cars, minivans, and trucks carry men and women to the Sri Govindaji Temple on the first full day of Yaoshang (Holi as celebrated by the Meiteis).  Clad in their traditional attire carrying drums and banners they dance in the hall opposite the main shrine festively […]

3/20/2009 | India , Manipur

Yaoshang: Torch Relay

Torch relay during Yaoshang, Imphal

During the fist day of  Yaoshang the streets of Imphal fill with runners (and walkers) of all ages.  Each locality of the city begins there Yaoshang sports festival with a torch lighting ceremony.  The fire is brought in a running procession through the streets from either the Kangla (the city’s Meitei historical heart) […]

3/19/2011 | India , Manipur

Yaoshang (Holi in Manipur)

Ceremony at the start of Yaoshan (Holi), Imphal


The Indian spring holiday of Holi is kind of a big deal in Imphal.  Unlike elsewhere in the hills of the Northeast India where the tribal communities are mostly Christian, the Meiteis of the Imphal valley are Hindu and celebrate the spring holiday of Holi, know locally as Yaoshang, with particular exuberance.  […]

11/5/2010 | Delhi , India

Diwali in Old Delhi

Markets of Old Delhi on the morning of Diwali


I had connected with a fellow Moorpark-ian, Gene, who was now an ex-pat teaching at an international school in Delhi.  In a “small world” encounter, he had been at Moorpark High the same time as me (though a year ahead), later he took a class on South Asian history from my dad […]

10/14/2010 to 10/16/2010 | India , Nagaland

Dancing in Shiyong


Before the long journey back to Delhi, I stuck around in Shiyong to see the inauguration of a new community center built with the help of the Assam Rifles, unit of the Indian Army.   Anxious to boost their image in the region the Assam Rifles had built the community center as a […]

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 […]

3/17/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Kumbh Mela Part IX: Death of a Sadhu


As I walked along side one of the channels of the Ganges that ran through the camps on the Eastern edge of Haridwar I noticed a small group of Sadhus gathered by the river.  Some were chanting others just stood watching.  I would find out after the small crowd dispersed that what […]

3/17/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Kumbh Mela Part VIII: A Sadhu Lunch


A stream a Sadhus passed by me as I sat resting in the afternoon sun, immediately curious as to where all these holy men were headed, I jumped to my feet and followed.  It turned out I had stumbled upon a lunch that was being put on for a particular Akhara (division […]

3/16/2010 to 3/17/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Kumbh Mela Part VII: Life in the camps


The wide flood plain that harbors several channels of the Ganges on the eastern edge of Haridwar sprouts into a tent city during the Kumbh Mela.   Temporary Ashrams, Naga Sadhu camps, and tented accommodation for pilgrims from various states cover the barren plains in a patchwork of canvas and color.  I found […]

3/16/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Kumbh Mela Part VI: Hari Ki Pauri


Hari Ki Pauri is believed to be the point at which Ganges leaves the mountains and enterers the plains of India.  It is the most revered site in Haridwar believed by Hindus to have been visited by both Siva and Vishnu.   While this revered ghat was closed to all but holy men […]

3/15/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Kumbh Mela Part V: Somavati Amavasya


Until March 15, 2010 in Haridwar, despite having been to Varanasi and other sacred cities on the Ganga (Ganges) numerous times the extent of my contact with the river had been limited to washing my hands in the icy cold waters at Gomukh, the point at which the Ganges flows from the […]

3/15/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Kumbh Mela Part IV: Sadhus on the march


Somavati Amavasya occurs when a new moon falls on a Monday.  On this auspiciousness day Hindus believe that a dip in a holy river will have especially good karmic results.  During a Kumbh Mela this auspiciousness is amplified.  The stream of Sadhus toward Hari Ki Pauri Ghat inching toward their sacred bath, […]

3/12/2010 to 3/15/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Kumbh Mela Part III: The Sadhu Olympics

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Sadhus, Hindu holy men, are a fixture amidst the holy cities and temples of India.  Normally wondering the road between holy sites or meditating in caves up in the Himalayas, once every 3-4 years they converge on the site of the Kumbh Mela.  It is the […]

3/12/2010 to 3/15/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Kumbh Mela Part II: It’s time for a bath


As the Second Royal Bath (Somvati Amavasya – Dvitya Shahi Snan) approached, the banks of the holy Ganga(Ganges) at Haridwar steadily filled with pilgrims.  In the mornings the pilgrims who had descended on Haridwar from across India would flock to the ghats, taking their morning bath in the holy river.  In the […]

3/12/2010 | India , Uttarakhand

Kumbh Mela Part I: Arriving in Haridwar


From Nasik I would continue my festival hopping heading North via Delhi to the mother of all Indian festivals, the Kumbh Mela, which was taking place in Haridwar.  Billed as the worlds largest religious gathering the Kumbh Mela is a bathing festival that rotates between 4 sites, Haridwar, Allahabad, Nasik, and Ujain.  […]

3/5/2010 | India , Maharastra

Nasik: Rang Panchami, Holi Strikes Back


I put on my already color stained hole ridden shirt which I had worn for the Holi celebration in Hyderabad.  I had saved this item that might ordinarily gone straight to the trash can for this particular day.  I placed my camera inside my dry bag backpack securing the watertight seal.  I […]

| 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 […]

2/28/2010 to 3/1/2010 | Andhra pradesh , India

Holi Hyderabad!


I had decided to stick around Hyderabad for Holi, while not the most exuberant place to celebrate Holi, I would get a chance to attend the Indian School of Business (ISB)’s Holi party with my friend Sunny.  It was being held the day before Holi since classes were being held on Holi.  […]

2/27/2010 | Andhra pradesh , India

Hyderabad Malid un Nabi Part II


The following morning I returned to the Charminar area for the procession I had been told about the night before.  More and more people flooded in to the area opposite the Jamma Masjid on the street leading North to the Charminar.   Some colored there faces with green sparkling paint, a Muslim answer […]

2/26/2010 | Andhra pradesh , India

Hyderabad Malid un Nabi Part I


We went down to the Charminar, the iconic center of Hyderabad’s Islamic old city center, on the eve of Malid un Nabi the day Muslims celebrate the birthday of the prophet Mohammad.  It was a festive atmosphere as people stood along the streets waving flags and dancing, while others drove around on […]

2/15/2010 | India , Karnataka

The Cart Pull: Gokarna


For weeks leading up to this day the massive wood cart parked at the end of Car Street in Gokarna had slowly metamorphosed into its present ornate configuration.  Teams of laborers had constructed an elaborate canopy on the massive wood wheeled platform decorated with splendor fitting enough for the god that would […]