Friday, December 11, 2009

Brahma Temple in Pushkar

"Born from a flower" - that is what Pushkar means. Brahma accidentally dropped a flower down to Earth from the heavens, and Pushkar Lake was instantly created. This was the site of Brahma's first vajna, or sacrificial ritual. When Brahma's wife, Savitri, did not attend this event, Brahma took another consort. Savitri, hurt by this, cursed Brahma never to be worshiped anywhere outside Pushkar. So it was cool to visit the spot where it is cool to have a temple devoted to Brahma.

Pushkar Lake

Ghats surrounding Pushkar Lake
Pushkar Lake

Pushkar Lake is a pilgrimage spot, or dham, for Hindus. During Kartik, in October or November (lunar), devotees come to bathe in the lake water. Surrounding the lake are fifty-two ghats, though many of the steps do not lead to water, as the lake was nearly void of water when we visited.

Brahma Temple

Since this is one of the world's only Brahma temples, we got up before the Sun to witness the aarti, or morning offering. We did not take a camera with us to the seven hundred year-old temple, therefore no photos are available. It was cool just to see the temple, one place I had wanted to visit since I arrived in India nearly one year prior.

Upon returning to the hotel from our temple visit, a group of men invited us over for some chai. There was a small group of guys with one guru, sitting around a small fire. We hung out for a bit, thanked them and went back to the hotel. I picked up the camera and went back to take a photo of the guru.

Shared some chai with this guy and his friends after visiting Brahma Temple
The chai guru

On my way back to the hotel, a man extended a flower to me. "A gift from Brahma," the man said. I told him I had no money to give him. He repeated that it was a gift, so I accepted it, thanked him and tried to walk on. He then told me that I had to toss the flower into the lake. I went along with him for a bit and at the lake's edge he had me repeat a prayer. One of the lines of the prayer was that I will give Brahma one hundred Euro. I told him that I am not European, so he said, "two hundred American dollars." I told him that I was not going to give him anything. At this, the man forcefully told me that I have to give him money since I accepted the flower and he had done all the work of going through a prayer with me, and that the money is for charity. I told the man that if he gave me the address of his charity's office, I would gladly give a donation. At this the man got angry and pretty much demanded that I give him money; at least fifty dollars. I told him that he should be ashamed of himself and that I was leaving. Two other people approached me with a flower on my short walk back to the hotel, so be aware of this scam. It is unconscionable that these guys pull this on tourists, where I can see a foreigner getting scared and giving over their money.

Too Many Tourists

This town seems to be mostly tourists, and many of them appear to be loafers or hippies or dopers. I saw many signs posted against drug use, which were outnumbered by the t-shirts and posters hanging around promoting drug use. All the shops we walked by were selling junk at high prices. Perhaps we were in the wrong area to find good quality merchandise and maybe we only saw a small section of the tourists, but that was my impression. I did pick up a cool Ganesha ring, though.

Ganesha ring I picked up in Pushkar
Ring I picked up in Pushkar

Walking the Streets

Saw some interesting people and places in Pushkar. Here are some highlight photos.

Cool dude on his Enfield, err Harley
Cool dude converted his Enfield into a Harley with some stickers

Taco Bell in Pushkar, India
The only Taco Bell in India that I know of

And, we ate some pakoras and I drank some kadai dudh.

Pakora stand in Pushkar (yes, we ate here)
Yes, we ate something cooked by this guy

Kadai dudh
I found this kadai dudh to be too sweet

Savitri Temple

We were pressed for time, otherwise it would have been fun to climb the hill up to the Savitri temple. I cannot find a representative picture, but I understand there is a large statue of her inside the hilltop temple.

Savitri Temple atop Ratnagiri Hill
Next time, Savitri

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