Yesterday we took a ride out to a town by the name of Halvad. We were told that we would get to see a few temples and Bapas’ old palace. The palace is over 500 years old and abandoned by humans, but there are many other species that live there instead. It was creepy and beautiful at the same time. There were fruit bats, which if you are not aware are much larger than the bats we see in Philadelphia. I took a trip up to the top of the castle with the boys and saw them flying around and hanging high from the trees. It felt like they were all going to turn into vampires, that’s how big they were. There were also dogs walking along the ledges up high just waiting for a bird to swoop too low. We also saw a large honeybee hive, and I was a little too close for comfort, but it was neat to see such a large hive. There were all kinds of birds and it was all a little surreal, considering my professor is the owner of this medieval castle. I have seen old castles in Europe that are open to the public, so one can see the way people lived hundreds of years ago, but I had never seen an old castle that someone I know owns and has been passed down to him by his forefathers. Amazing!
A view of the castle
Where the bats are living.
We also went to a temple that was made for all the people who had sacrificed their lives for India. It was made for men and women and all castes. There were symbols on the tombs of either a hand, which symbolized a woman, or a man on a horse, which symbolized men. All of the women had sacrificed their lives after their husbands had died but not the other way around. The story got even more interesting when I saw what looked like a large grill and asked one of the interpreters, Dipta, what it was. She explained that it is where people bring their dead relatives to cremate them. When I looked down I realized that the ashes around the grill were rather new and that it had most likely been used within the past few weeks. This was not just an ancient tradition it was still going on and then I looked up and there was a funeral procession walking right past us. I have to admit I got a little nervous; I was sure that they were going to walk right up to where I was standing and light the dead person on fire, but they kept walking. Dipta called out to them to ask if we could follow and we started walking. I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch a body get burned, but I kept walking and then suddenly she stopped. She turned to us and said the body was a little boy and they were walking to another area so we did not follow them. The one thing I noticed was that there were no women in the procession, and she said that generally only men go and the government preferred that women not follow because they tend to become to upset. Although, if the family did not have any sons then the daughters are to go instead and start the fire, then Dipta told us her story about when she lit her grandfather’s right toe and leg at his funeral. She said that whatever remains are left after the fire has died out will go into a container and stay at home for a few days and then they bring the remains to a river and release it so that the person can move on. In the Hindu religion, one is not allowed to worship or go to a temple for three days, because one has seen an impure object, so they need to cleanse themselves before praying to their gods.
I must apologize because I did not get a picture of the grill I was too stunned by the funeral procession. Above are some of the stones for the people that sacrificed their lives for India.
This fieldtrip was a little heavy at times, but at the end of the night all of the girls piled into our minivan and the driver played disco, Enigma, Akon, and Tokyo drift all the way home. We all laughed and danced all the way home.