Monday, 10 March 2014

Report V: The Sacred Cities Varanasi & Vrindavan



After an uneventful flight to Delhi, and a light lunch in our vehicles taking us directly to Mathura, we landed in Barasana to witness Lathmar Holi. We had secured our cameras with various styles of rain covers, zip lock bags and the like...and it was with some trepidation that we realized that we were too late at the event to secure reasonable positions to photograph the action.

A few minutes later, we also realized that it might not have mattered anyway. The throngs of people squeezed within the narrow alleys of Barsana were difficult to tackle whilst keeping an eye on our camera gear, protecting it from the colored 'gulal', trying to sense when our pockets were picked and prevent it (impossible)...and avoid the falling thick sticks wielded by women on the local men taking part in the event.

It was hard to tell wether the crowd's excitement was genuine, or assisted by various substances. We all smelt alcohol and marijuana smoke in the air. That said, with the exception of being shoved...sometimes quite hard....by the crowd of men (mostly), we were able to photograph with reasonable ease when we got to the small circles of women with the sticks.

Thankfully, there was no liquid projectiles or streams of colored water during this event...however our precautions in carefully protecting our cameras paid fruit, and apart from some minor color dustings on the lenses and bodies, we drove back to our hotel unscathed.

The hotel in Vrindavan was/is (in my view) wonderful. Brand new, with all modern amenities and working wifi (and free)....and delightful staff. This will be our base until the 18th of March. Its only drawback is that it offers only vegetarian food.