Chased by 2 Shivas

 

Chased by 2 Shivas
Chased by 2 Shivas

I’m being chased by 2 Shivas. Around 5, Neeraj picked me up on his scooter and we headed to the main gat in Ujjain for one of the most important Aarti events (fire ritual at sunset) of Khumb Mela… It’s the most auspicious bathing day of the entire festival, and literally millions have been gathering all day along the banks of the sacred Shipra river. Neeraj knows the young priests, we’re in the inner circle. Skinny young holly men draw large circles with fire in the air facing all cardinal directions while drums are being played and the Aarti climaxes with people caressing the flames with their hands and touching their face. I’m left to my own as Neeraj has to rush home. Alone to cross an ocean of 100, 200, 300 thousand people packed in the tiny Ujjain streets. It’s hot, I’m still recovering from my bike ride from Indore, the flu is peaking in my throat and I’m in cold sweat mode, almost shivering. I come across a young boy dressed as a pink Shiva, complete with his trident… ‘Cool’… After a few photos, his twin appears, this time it’s the blue version, smaller, but much more aggressive, like they always are. They both begin to whip my bald head with long broom like things which is a sort of blessing; ‘there, I’ve blessed you, now give me money’… Within seconds, they’re chasing me down Ujjain, amidst a tightly packed crowd of thousands of festival goers and obviously, these thousands of people all have eyes, all keenly focused on the bald sweaty white guy being chased by twin Hindu deities, one blue and one pink, screaming Money Money Money. Thus begins the weirdest 10 minutes of my life. Relentless, they won’t give up… Money Money Money!!! This is not happening… This is not happening. They’re like two little machines; unstoppable, un-exhaustable and un-lostable. A normal person would have stopped after 10-20 meters. If I stop, they’ll just hit my bald head a million times with that broom thing saying Money, Money, Money with identical gusto… I’ll look even more ridiculous. Obviously, it’s easy to spot the bald white man, the only white man, at the event. A kilometer of about 100 Money Money Money later, I finally reach a police post… The Shivas vanish.

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