Thursday, July 10, 2008

Link to group blog...

Here is the logo I designed for the trip...

To check out the UAB group blog (where Cathleen has posted many beautiful photos) go to

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

More pictures from first week...

Here a few more photos from the first week of our trip...they include: a picture of me drinking fresh coconut juice with Zack anc Patricia, a temple market, women in the rice paddy, and a picture of us learning about a cave image of Durga slaying the Buffalo demon, and a silk weaver in his home showing us his beautiful saris and scarves!

Elephant Blessings

Last night we went to the Rajarajesvara Temple in Tanjore where we got blessed by the beautiful elephant. He/she was oh so sweet and you could actually feel him breathing on top of your head out of his trunk as he/she blessed you! How nifty!!! Where else but in India I ask you?!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Running of the Bulls!

So, we've been in India for a week now and to say it has been interesting is an understatement! Upon arriving in Chennai we visited a local hospital and toured the facilities as well as met with the chief administrator and interviewed him. They do 200 free cardiac surgeries a year! We met some of the children who had just had the surgery and they were so sweet! Later that evening we went to Spencer's Plaza to do some shopping.

The next day the rest of the group went to the holy site of Tirupathi which I unfortnately had to miss because I got quite sick. I was the first to get sick, but not the last! So far only 2 people in the group haven't gotten sick!!! After leaving Chennai, we headed to Mamallapurum and stopped along the way to see people tending a rice field and a silk weaving shop...very intricate!

Mamallapurum was beautiful and the resort we stayed in was right on the beach! I have never swam in such strong water! The waves tossed us around quite a bit. The many temples and monuments we have seen are breathtaking and it is so surreal to see all of these places I have studied about in person!!! Some of the Hindu monuments we have visited are: Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi, The Great Relief in Mamallapurum, The Gaingakondacolupurum temple, and many more.

Some of the other interesting things we have done is visiting a salt mine, visiting with locals from a village outside of Swamimalai where they invited us inside their huts and we got to see how they live here in rural areas...

Chidambarum was an adventure. The temple there is huge and is actually still a living temple so we got to see, hear, and smell the wonders of the puja that was taking place there as the priests gave offerings of sound (bells, gongs, and chants), scents (incense), sights (light and flowers), and tastes (many coconuts). It was so mysteriously beautiful! As we were walking around the outside of the temple it was getting dark. As we rounded the corner, a large bull came out of nowhere and gored my professor (Dr. Ryan). It was a very anxious and chaotic scene. Krish ran off to see if he could find a stretcher to carry her out and if they would allow him to pull our van up to the temple (not an easy task). We tried to make her comfortable while we waited by elevating her feet and applying presure to the wound on her upper leg where the horns of the bull had gored her. As we waited many locals starting swarming around us out of sheer curiosity. Elizabeth quickly let them know they needed to back off! Yet, that didn't quite work. Once we got her to the hospital she was fine!

So, today we are going to visit some bronze casters and a temple later. We are now in Swamimalai. The Paradise Resort we are staying in is quite lovely and we ate our meal last night off a banana cool! I have to run for now so the bus doesn't leave without me, but I will try to post more soon and even hopefully put up a few of the amazing photos I have gotten.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

India Here I Come!

So, this is the very beginning of the accounts, tales, thoughts, meanderings, and otherwise rants of what is surely to become the trip of a lifetime!

I would like to give a disclaimer to anyone reading this (especially those people like Mr. Daughhetee who would invariably know more than me on any given historical topic no matter how long I study it) that I by no means am an expert on India, Hinduism, or anything really. I am merely an excited student who is using this vast and fun internet spot to jot my thoughts. So, I apologize beforehand if my excitement causes me to post incorrect information or if it at any way offends anybody. Not my intentions at all. Ok, phew, now I'm off the hook. As I was saying...

I am leaving for India in a little under a month and to be more exact, 3 weeks, 4 days, and some change (meaning hours, minutes and seconds). I feel that already this summer has been very auspicious for me and that India is in a way tugging at my blouse to get me to hurry up and get there. We went to the Hindu temple in Pelham a couple of weeks ago and saw the priest give offerings of honey, milk, perfumed water, etc. to the murti (or icon of the manifestation of God). This particular temple was a Vaishnavite temple (meaning it was mainly dedicated to the manifestion of the Divine known by his devotees as Vishnu).

I would like to quickly pause to say that the reason I am referring to and will continue to refer to the different Hindu deities as manifestations of "the God" or of "the Divine" is because I follow along with the belief that Hinduism is not polytheistic; and is instead a monotheistic spiritual practice that has different manifestations, or personalities if you will, of the ultimate God, Creator,Divine that take on different forms. These different forms are thus the plethora of Hindu gods and goddesses represented in Hinduism (Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Ganesha, Hanuman, etc...). I feel that these different manifestations of the Divine exist simply as a way to make the multi layered and quite complex God more accessible and relatable to the devotee during puja (worship) and prayer.

To make a long story short, the ritual we saw at the temple was beautiful. Afterwards, we had a short lesson in the language of Hindi. It was more difficult than other languages I have tried to tackle. For starters, there are sounds that we don't even make in English.

Other noteworthy auspicious Indian happenings:
-Went to a friend's Hindu wedding on 5/31...Kanthi and David looked great! The wedding even had an "auspicious" time of 10:20 a.m. that the rituals began!

-Met with a woman at the BMA (Birmingham Museum of Art) about making a culture case on India for the museum.

-Going to see an Indian dance on Friday 6/6 by a woman who is from Chennai (our arrival port) and will be performing a 2,000 year old traditional Indian dance that was on the verge of extinction at one point.

Ok, well keep your eyes peeled. I will blog more later.