To Veil or Not to Veil ?

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This is not a woman seen in Gujurat but in Rajasthan.  We are used to seeing Muslim women with their faces covered but not Hindu women.  The question of why , was asked of Vikram, our guide in Jodhpur. He explained  that Rajasthan is very traditional and that married Hindu women must cover their faces  with this thin filmy fabric when out in public. It is a bit confusing as the woman’s face is partially hidden but  also visible. . . . .a tease really, I think.

He also explained that he had an arranged marriage where he was given a photograph and ask to say yes or no for the perspective bride.  He remembered grumbling that he couldn’t make that important life decision from a photograph, and his grandmother saying, “At least you have some choice!”  He thought a moment and agreed, saying yes for his bride.  Now that they are married and moved into the extended family of the groom, the new bride also was required to wear the veil over her face when in the company of her new in-laws and grandparents.  Vikram’s mother told her daughter-in-law she needn’t wear her veil when it was just the two of them but to wear it in front of her father-in-law and grandparents as a sign  of respect.

Vikram told us that the marriage arranged by the couple’s parents had grown from an arranged marriage to a marriage of love!

So ends the lesson on Indian marriage customs for today!

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I would love to hear your thoughts. . . . . This Is Incredible India! 

Images from Google Public Domain

 

 

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Peace. . . . on Mr. Rocket !

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Jennifer, Mr. Rocket,our camel, and I were just bumping through the desert. .   Jen was riding behind me and got this silly picture. . . what a fun ride it was . .  PEACE !

This Is Incredible India! 

Have you ridden a camel?  We did in Egypt years ago and thought we wouldn’t do it again. . . . but we did. . . .safely and it was fun.  Getting on the camel as it lies in the sand, and leaning backwards or forwards to help the camel as it rises or lies down is a tad scary. . . but just bouncing along as it lumbers through the sand is quite a ride! 

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A Wedding Drone?

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I drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle according to Wikipedia.  It is usually thought of  as a weapon of  war used  by Special  Forces Operations to keep pilot’s safe. There is a small but growing  number of civilian application  using drones  in policing, security, inspections, border patrols, and now wedding photography !

My friend Keyur , an amazing Indian photographer who specializes in candid  images, said the  best, most fun wedding he shot had a drone filming as well! Visit Keyur Panchal at his blog below. He shoots  weddings in a number of locations throughout India.

http://keeppicturing.wordpress.com

Well, back to the wedding to which we were invited.  This large reception was the fourth event out of 5 of the week long wedding celebration. I have been to some lovely weddings in the United States but this is right up there as far as glitz and glitter, complete with fireworks.

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Here is one pair of waitstaff passing juice and water to the seat guests. There is no alcohol at Hindi weddings.  Notice the helper’s celebratory turban.  We sat waiting for the bride and groom to make their entrance.  First came the bride. . .unnamed (28)

 

then the groom.  It is my understanding that the actual marriage was the day before.  We didn’t go to those ceremonies and lunch as it would taken most of the day.  This huge event  (many hundreds of guests) was hosted by the groom’s family.  The bride and groom will live with his family when in India. They both are practicing doctors in the United States and will return to live and work there.

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Not sure about these dancers, but my guess it that they are scaring away evil spirits for the new couple.

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Here we are in our glory with Zill , our hostess who is the sister of the bride. Zill was an exchange students at RPI so the students know her.

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Here are the guys looking quite elegant, don’t you think?

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Little girls dreaming of such a fairy tale wedding, someday !

We were so hungry when it was time to eat. I didn’t take any pictures of the tables and tables along the perimeter  of three sides of the elegant wedding “plot.” It was an unbelievable spread.  There was traditional Indian cuisine, a table for Indian Jains who eat no root vegetables, there was Spanish food, Italian food, a sweets station as well as  one for desserts.  The service was impeccable, the food plentiful,  and I might add, delicious.  Not institutional food cooked in large quantities but delicious  and fresh  at each table !  We ate as if it was our last meal and were soon  resting back in our comfortable chairs trying to stay warm. It was a chilly night . . . . unseasonable for this time in India.

Now here comes the “drone” in the title. Bet , if  you are still reading, you thought I had completely lost my topic, with my meanderings. . . . . but no. .

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This is the actual blurry picture I took with my phone!  I had no idea what it was or what it was doing but the guys did.   We were startled and amazed all at the same time as it flew round and round the large party.

For me, the mood changed rather abruptly, not because of  anything at the wedding but with the entrance of the drone. Pretty much after a few seconds, I remembered the drones, and two  weddings  which changed lives in an instant and forever in “Homeland”.  Also the news about hits at weddings to kill terrorists.  Weddings, not unlike this one, where families, the bride and groom, friends, and acquaintances  gathered to celebrate the birth of a new family. A joyful time changed in a second with devastatingly destructive bombs!  I looked around at all these happy people, just imagining. For a moment, I could see the terrible pain and destruction.  It was a horrible glimpse into  the hell of war.

I am blessed that my wedding experience ended this way. . . . .

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This Is Incredible India!

I would love to hear about any wedding experiences you have had. . . . . your thoughts on the drone. . . .  or just your reaction  to the post !

 

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The Haveli in Jaisalmer

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This is a picture from atop the fort in Jaisalmer, the Golden City of Rajasthan.

Namaste!

Today, Jaisalmer is a remote outpost in the desert and actually the last city in India before the desert and then the border  with Pakistan. The original city was founded in the 12 century as a trade center along the busy caravan route to and from Afghanistan.  The local yellow sandstone is spectacular, especially as the sun sets. It is an outstanding  example of Rajastani stonemason’s art  which appears  as delicate as lace.

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The mansions and palaces or Havelli, were  built and owned by wealthy  merchants  who were competing for the most spectacular facade.  The first floor was a warehouse or business and the family lived above. This was due to the continuous blowing sand which was a constant and  uninvited guest.

 

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The narrow streets of this old neighborhood  retain the workmanship and charm of a time gone by. There seem to be more cows and pigs wondering  around the windy streets of Jaisalmer than in previous cities.  This increases the need to be keeping an eye where you are walking as well as trying not to miss the architecture  and fine stone carvings. Winding through the narrow streets, the enormous  fort is ever present  guarding from above.

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Just a tease about the fort and its imposing structure.. . . . . .

This Is Incredible India !

 

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Kites By Day, Lanterns By Night. . . . .

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Here we are on the roof of the Mill Owner’s Building setting off lanterns!  You can tell by the happy faces that a fun time was had by all !

We leave Jaisalmer in about an hour.  I thought I would send along this image though it was a few weeks ago.  We are heading to the desert to the camp where we can ride camels , and sleep tonight in the desert.  We rode camels in Egypt ages ago and dbell says “Not again!” but I am considering it!

Tomorrow we head back to Amdavad and more regular internet!

This Is Incredible India !

PS. . . .We actually could see CNN International and so have kept up on the Obama/Modi news.  The Indians have been so excited that Mr. Obama was the important guest at the Republic Day Parade. It was pointed out that he chewed gum , but dbell says, “Give him some slack.  Giving up cigarettes can be terrible!”   There were lots of pictures of what the kids call “bro-hugs” and much commentary on Mr. Modi’s fashion sense!   I do just hope that the agreements that were or will be signed with be advantageous to both countries. China jumped right in to warn India not to believe the US!  The 1.6 billion souls in India are very attractive possible consumers  all over the world.

PS  I got this ready to post the second day in Jaisalmer and then was unable to post it either that afternoon or the next morning. Challenges . . . . .

We arrived back in Amdavad after 12 hour trip from the desert camp.  Good to be home!

This Is Incredible India!

 

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Greetings from the Golden City of Rajasthan

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Namaste from Jaisalmer, India  ! We have been travelling since last Tuesday and will return to Amdavad  on next Wednesday night after a world wind eight day trip to Rajasthan, a neighboring state to Gujarat. Here is an image from Google Public Domain that begins to give you an idea where gets its name.  It is just about 5 PM and we all anticipate the golden color of the sandstone in the setting sun.

We have just arrived after a 6 hour trip from Jodphur on many bumpy roads reminiscent to paths in other places in the world. With the cattle, goats, camels and feral dogs and huge buses, and trucks all on this path -like road, we saw our first terrible accident.  Well, we saw the aftermath of the accident. . . .a mangled motor bike with a body covered next to it. Many people had gathered in the area and were standing silently, in shock.

We had some much pleasanter experiences on the bus, laughing and talking to this new, different , but equally as special  group of students as the ones in  2013.  The first week or so everyone is just in shock but that has worn off as they become more comfortable with India, the other students, David and me their humor and teasing us all, has made a very congenial group.

Yesterday, we drove through village after village where the people were gathered, signing in and voting in a Rajasthan wide election. Voting is not only a responsibility here but also a celebration. The women had on their most colorful sarees for the occasion.  In the huge election in May 2014, Indians made their voices heard for change in the country. The Indians, in their Democratic Republic only 60 years old, know something we in America have forgotten. The Indians wanted a change and stood in line for hours to vote. The percentage of the eligible voters who voted was a staggering 66+ %!  I think the % of voters in our last election in the US was in the 30s!  We get the government , we deserve!

Anyway, in upcoming posts I will share with you the tale I learned from our guide in Jodphur with the explanation to  our question as to why Hindu women, not just Islamic women cover their face in public in Rajasthan.  I will tell you about the white , blue, pink,  and golden cities and their magnificent fortress structures.   There is a reason that so many tourists visit Rajasthan, and this area is one of the most prominent areas uniquely Indian in all this customs.

Tomorrow, we will tour this fort and discover the windy, narrow streets and visit the markets!   And we will stay the night tomorrow, so I hope I can post another time before we  end the trip in a spectacular way. . . . . all this amazing Indian  experiences . . . we will spend the last night in Rajasthan, before the long, long trip back to Amdavad. . . . .sleeping in a tent in the desert, seeing tribal dances performed to authentic music. . . . ride camels and dream of the Arabian Knights!    Touristy , absolutely. . .  but we are absolutely  that and can hardly wait, even dbell!

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Images from Google Public Domain

Ta ta for now from T I I I !    This Is Incredible India!

Love to hear your comments !

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Mendhi or Henna Hands

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This is the beautiful Indian bride, the night of Menhdi.   She is on a parallel roof with the million flickering candles of the Kite Festival lanterns twinkling in the night with a cascading firework over her  and to the left of the picture.  The photographer invited us to the  roof to see the shot being taken.  He is flying to the US to do a wedding shoot there.  Imagine !  The bride has both hands and arms and feet and up her legs done in henna , the night before the wedding. Traditionally, it is at the bride’s home or a wedding plot.  We were at the later.  There were a number of artists working to decorate anyone who wanted the Mendhi work done.  There was even a man doing masculine designs on the arms of boys and men.

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Jennifer bravely went first.  This young girl  did all of us, 6 in all , one right after another.  I tried to offer a tip but she was empahtic. . . “No Auntie!”  I did snag her a water  which was passed constantly along with various juices.  Hindus do not drink or serve alcohol. I had the feeling that the family of artists might be Gypsies, after all, India is thought to be the place of origin for the gypsy people.

The tradition of painting one’s body with henna was first seen in relics of Ancient Egypt. Today it is traditional in Hindu and Muslim countries for pre-wedding festivities and /or other celebratory festivals.  Remember the little girls showing us their Mendhi at Mohammad’s Birthday?

The Mendhi changes to a dark maroon color as it oxidizes in the air and reacts to your body chemistry.

The food was terrific as before, but lighter than on Monday night. There were Indian puff pastries that were filled either with a  spicy mixture or  sweets and honey.

Another little touch that  they might be Gypsy people was  a puppet show. I felt as if I was back in the small towns of Italy where in the central piazza, there was often a Punch and Judy puppet show especially on weekends.

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Finally, I will show you my hands which I am caring for to insure my Mendhi will last for the  two weeks of expectation I have !

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Any Mendhi experiences, or Indian weddings?

This Is Incredible India. . . . . . . T I I I !

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