Loy Krathong

A girl carries her krathong to the lake; a boy with his edible krathong; a variety of styles for sale. Last weekend, Thailand celebrated Loy Krathong. Loi krathong (ลอย กระทว) literally means “to float a basket,” and during the Loy Krathong festival, people make or purchase elaborate little baskets that they put into the river or lake while saying a prayer. Symbolically, when a person releases a krattong into the water, one also releases one’s problems and sins. The baskets are made from banana leaves and flowers or, for the more environmentally-conscious, fish food. Many Bangkok residents head down to…

carnival!

with the coming of easter, it is carnival season in greece, and we went to a carnival parade this past weekend. regarding carnival, wikipedia says: carnival typically involves a public celebration and/or parade combining some elements of a circus, masks and public street party. people wear masks and costumes during many such celebrations, allowing them to lose their everyday individuality and experience a heightened sense of social unity. excessive consumption of alcohol, meat, and other foods proscribed during lent is extremely common. other common features of carnival include mock battles such as food fights; social satire and mockery of authorities; the grotesque body displaying exaggerated features especially large noses, bellies,…

the penis trick

the sadhus set up large camps while at the kumbh mela, and there were all sorts of activities going on when they weren’t in the bathing processions. that’ll be the subject of the next post, but in the meantime, here’s a little something the baba nagas did to entertain the crowds. it’s something they said is related to yoga, but we just called it “the penis trick.” don’t try this at home. first, take your penis, and wrap it around a stick.  make sure it’s good and tight. next, pull the stick back between your legs, one end at a…

enter the sadhus

militant and not-so-militant sadhus: a naga baba carrying a mace during his akshara’s procession, and a naga baba smoking a chilam, a clay pipe filled with tobacco and hashish. while the pilgrims’ bath in the ganges is the biggest draw for the pilgrims, the sadhus’ bath in the ganges is the biggest draw for the tourists. specifically, the first two bathing days are when the sadhus go down to the water en masse, in processions organized by their various orders or sects. the most dramatic sadhu sects are composed of naga babas, the warrior ascetics. the naga babas were originally…

throwing the baby into the bathwater

for many people, their children’s first dip into the ganges is a major life event. the ceremony might begin with tonsuring – i.e., shaving the baby’s head – and then the parent or grandparent carries the baby into the river. for some, a splash on the legs is enough; for others, only full immersion will do. either way, the baby isn’t going to be happy about it. see how much fun this is? i guess not. and again, not so much fun. the legs are okay … … but not in the face! some babies don’t handle head-shaving as well…

welcome to the kumbh mela

the kumbh mela is a hindu pilgrimage during which tens of millions of hindus come to the banks of the ganges to bathe in the holy waters. the kumbh mela is held every three years on a rotating basis at one of four sites – hardiwar, allahabad, nasik and ujjain – where, according to legend, drops fell when the gods and demons fought over a pitcher of the nectar of immortality. this year’s kumbh mela was held at allahabad, which is especially significant because it is the point where three rivers – the ganges, the yamuna, and the mythical saraswati…

a quickie

i recently bought a diana lens – the same plastic lens as is found on the diana cameras from the ’60s – for my nikon d700. and it just so happened that a procession for the god ayyappam was walking by the house tonight. so let’s see what happens. next: amritsar