Monday, October 26, 2009
Twinkling lights + precious gems = Laxmi Personified
This weekend as you may or may not have known was the Diwali festival, the biggest and brightest festival in India. As we had three days off during this exciting event we went to town, literally and figuratively. Saturday, Sunday and Monday we slept in till 7 and then after getting ready we headed for the old city. Each time planning on making it to see the sites and each time being distracted by shops full of goodies and very charming men selling jewellery. By the end of the three days we had been in at least ten jewellery shops and had sat and had tea with at least 20 jewellery sellers.
These men are truly a breed of their own. They sit on the sidewalk or walk along the streets in pair, dressed to impress with killer smiles, waiting for foreigners, women mainly to walk past and try and strike up a conversation. They are always willing to help and if you are in search of food or a bank or a temple they will gladly show you where it is and after "no pressure of course you must come and see their jewellery shop. They have no expectations as they are wholesalers not common shops selling to the public and they have a great deal for you". Naturally they do have amazing jewellery and for some of it it is reasonably priced. The best part is the chatting though, they bring you chai and will sit and talk to you about all sorts of things for hours. I think we spent a total of at least two to four hours each day in jewellery stores. We did of course buy some jewellery. I got a blue sapphire ring to balance the saturn in my chart, Caitriona and i both bought earrings for presents.
The ultimate jewellery experience was on Monday however, another pair of nice men try and chat us up and say we must see the Krishna temple up above. So we go and check it out and one of them appears after a while and invites us for tea. Ok Caitriona says and we follow them down the steps and along the street into yet another back road up some more steps to surprise, surprise a jewellery store, at which point we inform them we have no desire in jewellery. Oh it is just a cup of tea no looking at jewellery and they do keep to their word. Somewhere along the line however we begin to talk about energy work and how one of them is studying under an amazing Guru and we must meet him. A call is made and within 30 mins we are standing outside of another jewellery shop!! Oh what adventures. So we enter and are escorted into a back room where we wait for another 30 mins. Suddenly the Guru appears smiling. We are talked to separately and what he says is amazing, he truly reads one like an x-ray looking at your aura he tells you of blocks you have, illness(es) you may not be aware of but have begun to form. It was one of the most interesting readings i have had in India and effected me the most, things i had long forgotten came up and i realized many things. It is going to take a long time to process them and i am confident in my healing powers. Naturally, we left his shop with more jewellery ;) A special pendant ritually made for each of us to help with our blocks. I got 4.5 carat emerald from Brazil and Caitriona a 4.5 carat blue sapphire from Sri Lanka.
Jewels are not all that Jaipur offers although sometimes you think it is. On Sunday we went nuts shopping and by the end of the day my arm ached from the weight of my bags. The old city is broken into bazaars, whole streets that sell only one thing; jewellery, clothing, bikes, bangles, sports goods, spices. It is amazing. Each shop is an experience unto itself. The sellers are charming and as you look at their goods you hardly realize you have spent 30 mins trying to haggle down the price of a shirt by 50 cents. Oh but it is all worth it. I wish i could buy everything and send it home to all of you and perhaps my new persona will allow this wish to be achieved. It seems my shopping bags and overall appearance seemed to transform me into the goddess Laxmi under the twinkling lights. My blonde hair sparkled as did my jewellery and people began to flock to me bringing their children to shake my hand and take pictures. Whether they truly saw me as Laxmi embodied or not it is quite funny as i got Laxmi tattooed on my arm in Cambodia in January. Laxmi for those of you who don;t know is the Hindu goddess of wealth and Diwali is her holiday. People pray to her and give puja in hopes that she will come to their home and spend some time and bless them with good fortune and as people came up to me i only hope i provided them with something so marvelous.
On top of all this shopping we also got to participate in the celebrations of the family we were staying with. The children all came home from Delhi and we ate delicious food and each night held puja and aarti for Laxmi. After the rituals were all done the streets exploded and i mean exploded into a virtual war zone. I have never in my life seen or heard so many fireworks go of at a time. The fireworks you can buy here and for a reasonable price are awesome and dangerous. It was lots of fun until we tried to go to bed and were kept up with visions of exploding streets until well past midnight.