Live from Mysore #8 ( Makara Shankranthi Festival)

Yesterday was the Makara Shankranthi Festival. I did yoga with BNS in the morning. My TM teacher (Nagaraja) invited me to his fire ceremony. Many of his followers came to his home and built 2 small fire pits in his living room. I realized as I watched them preparing, that I am his only non-Indian student. I was there just to watch, for the most part. They lit the fires and all chanted together for 1 hour. Then they got up and had me join them as we all circled the fire chanting Shiva and some other stuff I didn’t recognize. He also did a little of the Hudda chant. It was cool to get to see this. But I sure felt like an outsider.

The Makara Shankranthi Festival is every year on the same day. It’s a harvest festival. But the only thing they do besides fire rituals and puja (ritual gifts to their gods) is paint all the cows in town yellow and red. The horns are red everything else is yellow. Some people say they still do this 2nd part and Wikipedia says they don’t. I did not see it personally although I did go and look for it. Apparently at night they cover a few streets with hay, light it on fire and force the cows (painted like Easter eggs) to run through the fire. Seems like a strange thing do to your sacred animal. But I must keep reminding myself I am an outsider.

Later that night as it got dark we went to the Mysore Palace. Normally they only light it up on Sunday—by the way we have power outages every day—but they will also light it up on festival days. I thought they might run the cows through the fire after it got dark there and the palace lights came on, but they didn’t. We went to get a rickshaw for the ride home and were informed that since it was dark the price would be double to take us home. Welcome to India.


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