Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chennai (Madras)

South India is, indeed, very different from Northern India (at least the parts where I traveled).  The temple architecture is very different, with the temples in the south being heavily ornamented with figures of the gods and goddesses, all painted in bright hues.

The devotional instruments (lamps, flowers, offerings of milk and rice) remain the same.

Walking through the markets is always fun.  There were more tropical fruits for sale, as you would expect.  All the vegetables and flowers we saw were beautiful.  The carrots a big, bright orange, the pan leaves so very green, arranged so beautifully in this basket.

Mounds and mounds of roses!  I hadn't seen so many roses for sale since I was in Morocco and Tunisia.

Always bananas.  I love bananas and I ate as many as I could while on this trip.  The small, extra sweet ones that are so common are my favorite.  Several of the fellows on this trip were more fond of the red bananas, but I am a purist I guess.  The yellow ones are for me.

 We saw so many women with flowers decorating their hair.  I don't remember flowers used this way so much in Northern India.  The saris were bight and beautiful.  I am not astute enough about Indian fashion to recognize the differences in color, pattern and style from the north to the south, but even to my untrained eye, the clothing was subtly different.

We were there during the lead up for the Pongal Festival.  These chalked designs in front of houses and businesses were everywhere and are a part of the festival.  Pongal is very important in the south, especially in the state of Tamil Nadu.  It is a religious festival that celebrates the harvest and the sun beginning to move north again.  There are special foods, especially a sort of porridge made with rice,  and the mood is very happy and upbeat.

I especially liked visiting the Shore Temple, which is situated right on the Bay of Bengal, in a village south of Chennai.  We were lucky enough to be able to visit in the late afternoon and so were treated to the sight of the moon rising up behind the temple spires.  It was beautiful!

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