Today has been two separate days in fact – the first half was spent up at Santa Cruz at the Yoga Institute. The second half was spent on Chowpatty Beach in amongst the craziness of Ganpati.
Here are a few images for starters:
It was an early start to get to the Yoga Institute by 8:30am – because we knew the traffic coming back would be madness, with everyone descending on the south of Bombay for the Ganpati celebrations in the afternoon and into the night.
We filmed at the Institute until about 1pm – and I did a truly wonderful interview with the Institute’s director, a very wise and compassionate woman who spoke about intuition with conviction, passion and knowledge.
The Institute seems like it hasn’t changed all that much since it was established nearly 100 years ago. We also filmed in the library, which contains the original handwritten manuscripts of Yogananda. I sat there in the library and read these tiny scribblings and marvelled at how what he wrote about is still relevant today.
We then headed back down to our hotel – I downloaded and backed up all the footage, then Jennifer and I went to lunch. We were told of a small “veg” restaurant about half a mile up the road from where we were staying. It turned out to be amazing.
We had a simple meal of spinach and white cheese, dhal, a spicy cauliflower curry, and naan fresh from the wood fired stone oven. With drinks the whole meal cost $12 for the two of us – and it was truly delicious.
We then set off down towards the beach – walking about 4kms past the Banganga Tank, and all the while coming across Ganeshas being prepped to take down to the beach, with youths banging drums and everyone dancing – with loud firecrackers going off incessantly.
By the time we got to the beach there must have been close to a million people there – with another one to two million in the surrounding streets.
The Ganesh statues – some of them huge – were being transported to the beach on the backs of trucks. There they were lifted down then put on trollies to wheel them down the beach to the sea, where they were to be immersed.
I can only but try to describe the spectacle of it all – the energy and the mass of bodies and the majesty of these enormous states seemingly moving of their own accord through the seething throng down to the water’s edge.
As the light dropped the statues got bigger, and so too the crowds. Somehow the police managed to keep everyone moving and safe – and I would have to say that it goes down as perhaps the most tumultuous religious ceremony I’ve ever attended. Not that I actually attend that many…
So the day started in peace and tranquility, and ended in loud boisterous tumult.
That’s India for you.