Thursday, November 15, 2012

26 July-18 October 2012 - Ooty and Coonoor

Saint Stephens Church, Ooty

Saint Stephens church was built in Ooty by the British in the early 1800s.

 Foreigners Registration Office

When I travel out of India, I have to go to the FRO (Foreigners Registration Office) in Ooty (the closest FRO to Coonoor), submit a form requesting permission to leave, and return to pick up the approved permission form a week later.

Tea estate accident

The driver of this jeep is an employee of the tea estate near us.  Apparently, there was a group of wild bison (Indian Gauer) on the road and he was trying to drive around them.  The manager of another local tea estate had recently been gored to death by a bison so I think this driver was very nervous and tried to give them so much space, he rolled down the hill.  He was not injured and told me the story.
Kolu Festival

from Wikipedia:  During the festival of Navratri in Southern India, it is customary in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, as well as in some Tamil communities within Sri Lanka, to display a "Kolu". This is an exhibition of various dolls and figurines in odd (usually 7, 9, or 11) numbered tiers ("padis").
Kolu or Golu in Tamil(கொலு) means Divine Presence. Kolu represents the divine presence of the Goddesses Sarawathi, Parvathi and Laxmi in their houses during Navaratri (Nine nights).
When people come to a person's house to see the Kolu, usually they are given prasad (the offering given to God that day), kumkum and a small bag of gifts. These are only given to girls and married women. In the evenings, a "kuthuvilakku" (small lamp) is lit, in the middle of a decorated "kolam"(Rangoli), before the Kolu and devotional hymns and shlokas are chanted. After performing the puja, the food items that have been prepared are offered to the goddesses.

Bhajan during Navratri Golu in Coimbatore, India

Like any festival, Kolu also has a significant connection with agricultural economy of ancient India. It is said that in order to encourage dredging and de-silting of irrigation canals and riverbeds the Kolu celebration was aimed at providing demand for the clay material got from such activities. There are many peculiar customs and beliefs in different parts of India that imbue sacred status to clay. Dissolving Ganesha dolls made of wet clay into the water system is one such belief. Another example is the Bengali tradition of using clay that has been tread upon by the most beautiful girl in the area to construct a doll of the Goddess Kali, the belief being that this would be the best way to approximate the perfect features of the Goddess.

My friend Kalyani wanted me to experience Kolu, so she took me to these two different households.  It was really wonderful.  I knew the hostess at the first home and was delighted to get to know the family at the second.  Everyone is so warm and hospitable.  This was the evening of 18 October.

No comments: