Indian Festivals: Dahi Handi

Last week there was a festival called Dahi Handi (also known as Krishna Janmashtami) which celebrates the birthday of Krishna, an avatar of the God Vishnu.

People in the state of Maharashta, where I am now, have the BEST way of celebrating.  There’s a legend that says when Krishna was little, he loved buttermilk.  To keep him from drinking it all, his mom would put it in a pot and tie the pot really high up.   So, Krishna got a group of his friends together, made a human pyramid, and broke the pot so they could all share the delicious treat inside.

To commemorate this and to celebrate Krishna’s playfulness on Dahi Handi, Maharashtan men tie a pot to a decorated rope really high up, make a human pyranmid (sometimes 8 or 9 tiers high), and the person at the very top (either a kid or a really small guy) breaks the pot with a coconut or some other blunt object.  If he is successful, the pot breaks and the milk pours down on everyone as a celebration of victory through teamwork.  If they don’t get it, they only get a few more tries.

The Handi

The Handi is the clay pot

Dahi Handi, Maharashta, India

Dahi Handi - The human pyramid

Because of the current political tension and recent bomb blasts, most human pyramid locations kept their event times a secret, so I didn’t get to see it in person.  My friend and I ran around for like an hour that night trying to find one, but no luck.

Here’s a video to give you an idea of what it’s like:

Saree shopping

Dadar West on a typical Monday evening

Dadar West on a typical Monday evening

Indian women sifting through stacks of beautiful sarees

Indian women sifting through stacks of beautiful sarees

Sarees are really beautiful, traditional dresses worn by Indian women.  It’s comprised of a blouse, a petticoat, a couple strategically placed safety pins, and a VERY long piece of fabric which is wrapped around in a specific manner exposing just your midriff and your arms.

There was a big dance a few weeks ago, so decided that was the perfect excuse to get a saree.

Saree shopping entails running around to find a fabric you like, having someone practice drape it on you, getting approval from the dozen people you brought with to help you pick just the right one, finding a matching petticoat, optionally buying extra fabric for the blouse (the main piece of fabric already includes a few extra feet at the end which can be used for a basic blouse), bringing it to a tailor to get a runner stitched to the main piece of fabric and to get the blouse measured and stitched, and then finally picking it up a few days later.

Saree Option #1

Saree Option #1

Saree Option #2

Saree Option #2

I love sarees.  I felt like a princess wearing this at the dance.

Me wearing a saree at the dance with my friend

Me wearing a saree at the dance with my friend

Beer & BBQ Festival

I was cruising around Burrp, an Indian version of Yelp, and found a nearby event called “Beer and BBQ Festival.”  What American doesn’t like beer and bbq?  So I clicked on it and stumbled upon this description:

‎Beer & BBQ Festival Euro Asian style at Fat Cat Kitchen & Bar. Choose from salad, smoked tofu, broccoli & shitake mushroom, plum cured chicken drumstick, citrus sova Tiger prawns and more.

When I clicked on “Beer & BBQ Festival” I was picturing something more like… PBR and ribs. Hahahaha

If there were more meat-eating, beer-loving people here, I would open up a proper American-style restaurant and show India how a real BBQ is done – 4TH OF JULY STYLE.

Fat Cat's idea of BBQ

Fat Cat's idea of BBQ

Cooking up Freedom

My idea of a Beer & BBQ Festival

Clearly this place is too fancy for me. Soo… ladies night at Firangi Paani’s it is!

Festival Season Begins!

Saturday was Raksha Badhan, the first of many festivals coming up here in India.  On Raksha Badhan, brothers and sisters remember their love for each other.

These bracelets are called rakhi.  On Raksha Badhan, the sister puts one of these bracelets, tikka (red powder that goes on your forehead), rice (representing prosperity), and a candle-ish thing on a silver plate.  Then she takes the plate, circles it around his head a few times, blessing him, puts the tikka on his forehead, and ties the rakhi on his right wrist.  This is to remind him that he has to protect his sister for the rest of her life.  Then the brother and sister hug each other and feed each other sweets and the brother gives his sister a gift like money, chocolate, or for the more adult siblings, something like a laptop, as a thanks for the blessing.

Plz enjoy the cutest display of Raksha Badhan everrrrrrrr:

Oh btw I’m in India

If you had told me four years ago, when I was starting to apply to colleges, that before I graduated I would visit 11 new countries spanning two continents, I would have said you were out of your fucking mind. But, several impulsive decisions, ungodly sums of student loans, and many worn out pairs of Converse later, here I am finishing my last semester of school in Mumbai, India.

This will be the longest I’ve stayed in one place since… I don’t even know when.  I’ll do my best to explain everything to you, but there aren’t enough words in English to describe everything adequately.

Plz enjoy some intro pictures of my hostel, my school, and the area I’m living in (it’s called Matunga)!

If there are any myths you want confirmed/busted, places you want to see pictures of, questions you want answered, drop me a line on my blog’s facebook page.

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