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Tulsi Vivah Purnami time; ritual sea baths and candle boat immolations in Puri

4 December 2010

While we were in Puri, there was the Tulsi Vivah fesitval on Purnima (full moon), the ending day of Hindu fasting as part of the 4 month Chatur Mas fasting period. Yeah that’s India for you, full of holy festivals and connected rituals. Being a Hindu definately isn’t easy! 😉

Most people had already stayed up all night outside at the famous Jagannath temple where a big stage was set up with musicians playing holy bhajan songs. I happened to pass by there on my heavy Indian cycle (in my search for more Orissa folkpop) and got told all about Tulsi Vivah by a friendly music shop clerk. All thanks to him, otherwise I wouldn’t have known about what was to happen at the beach early next morning.

Everyone who stayed up all night would come down to the beach from 4am(!) onwards. Talk about a night owl holy session into the early hours. Yeah, what might for us be like a late weekend night out is here done for Hindu rituals. This ‘puja’ was about offering little boats with candles on them to the sea of Bengal. Some boats were made of papièr maché, some in a natural way from the bask of a palm tree, real nice too! Ofcourse we just had to participate and do this special boat puja, so we got us some nice palm boats and a bag of orange flowers. I woke up around 5am (as our hotel was just a 1min walk from the beach) and got down there in the early dawn. So much people, surely thousands! And this was just on the *quiet* part of the Puri coast, as the main pilgrim beach is 2 km’s further up and surely much more crowded. The shopkeeper wasn’t lying when he said that easily up to 500.000 people (if not more) would do their puja here this morning. Ok, enough written about it. I’ll let this photograph serie and little comments speak for itself.

our palm boats nicely decorated with flowers, candles and purple/pink sails

a friendly family helped to make a nice sandy temple flower hill for us

looking at other people's boats in the candlelight

our boats already got waved over after 2 secs in the sea; no boats survived the sea over 10 secs

more family scenes

waiting for sunrise?

dawn at sea and candlelight effects

beautiful contrast, the light of dawn was so soft and warm

all washed up on the shore....

lifeguards posing....

...while folks got washed away.

sun is coming out

pic after I had to pose for Pinki's mobile phone (girl in red)

sea view through their eyes

and finally the sun!

till next post, we still got some up our sleeve.

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