Three Quarters Of A Footprint: Travels In South India – Joe Roberts
For five months Joe Roberts was a guest of the Trivedi family in their flat in Bangalore’s Baghpur Extension.
Major Trivedi, a military Brahmin, was given to reciting quatrains of Nostradamus; Atul, his 18-year-old son, was more concerned with Guns n’ Roses; while Mrs Trivedi, with her neighbour Mrs Sen, took charge of her visitor’s plans for travelling around Southern India.
Roberts journeyed to the jungle beyond Mysore – a jungle that, contrary to expectations, was only little trees and dappled glades; to the queen of the hill stations, Ootacamund, to which generations of English colonial officers had retreated, transforming an Indian plateau into a passable imitation of Bournemouth; and to Kovalam, which he visited in order to see the Kathakali dancers, but where he also found himself dining with an Australian pornographer. And he also travelled to Cochin, on the Malabar Coast, and shared a railway compartment with a drunken Bristolian who seemed unimpressed with everything but Indian moonshine.
But Roberts always returned to the ground-floor flat in Baghpur Extension, and to his friends the Trivedis. This is his account of his travels.
Tomorrow is a festival, which as a child, I used to wait for. Diwali or Deepavali as it called sometimes is also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’.’ This festival is one of the most important Hindu festivals in the year and is celebrated by Hindus all across the world. Deepavali literally means ‘row of lamps’ in Sanskrit and all households – whether rich or poor would have a few lamps outside the door. The lamps are to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, the goodess of wealth into homes. It is said that on this day, she will roam around earth and where she sees lamps lit to welcome her, she will bless that home with prosperity for the coming year.
There are many stories which are told for the origins of Diwali. In the northern part of India, this festival is celebrated to welcome Lord Rama, his wife, Goddess Sita and his brother Lord Laxman to Ayodhya after their 14 years of exile. Dusshera is celebrated as the victory of good over evil when Lord Rama vanquished the demon king Ravan in what is modern day Sri Lanka. The time between Dusshera and Diwali (approximately 2 weeks) is the time taken by the trip to reach Ayodhya in Northern India from Sri Lanka.
In Southern and Western India, this day is celebrated as the day Lord Krishna defeated the demon Narakasura. Therefore, when Diwali comes on an Amavasaya or a new moon night, we have to wake up early (4:30 – 5:00 am) and take a bath before sun-rise to commemorate this occasion. This day is called Naraka Chaturdasi
As for me, I’m almost done with my preparations. Made some savories and sweets and have tidied the house a bit. Exams are going on, so papers and assessment books are all over the place. We will wake up early and take an oil bath. Then wear new clothes and light the lamps. The children will play with crackers (only the simple ones as the others are banned here) and then visit a temple. Then home for a scrumptious lunch and then…..Study! GG & BB have English on Friday, followed by Maths on Monday and Chinese on Tuesday.
So here’s wishing everyone a very Happy Diwali and may the festival of lights be the harbinger of joy and prosperity in your lives…