One of the noises that is high on the musical score of the orchestra of India, is the sweeping of paths and steps with a rough bunch of branches and a bucket of water. This is the first thing that Indian ladies do in the morning light as the sun rises. I can't be all PC about this because it is always the women. I don't think shared household duties exist here, although you do sometimes see the men taking the children to school but you notice it, so it must be rare. But that's another blog post entirely. As much as I love to digress, I will stick to the cleansing rituals for now.
So, the paths get washed and brushed which makes a fabulous shwooshing sound as the water gets sloshed around and brushed away. The ladies are all wearing their nighties which incidentally they seem to keep on all day. Then they stoop in their bare feet to draw the daily rangoli on the entrance to the property.
Rangoli is one of my obsessions in Southern India. It is a drawing like a prayer which keeps out bad spirits and brings luck to the household. The drawing is made with rice flour (or sometimes chalk) and this doubles up as a food for ants and therefore keeps them out of the house. Sigh...I adore this concept and the designs they draw are so beautiful and so swiftly executed with a flick of the wrist and pouring of flour. These women are natural artists and I am envious of this daily task. I want to do this on my front path everyday too but a)the neighbours will raise their eyebrows at me drawing in my nightie b)the local kids already think I'm a witch because of my high hedges c)the rain will wash it away every day d)my first task is to put the kettle on and stare into space whilst trying to keep warm for 8 months of the year.
Pushpa does an amazing doorstep cleanse which involves fresh jasmine and marigolds placed just so and a rice flour rangoli and various squishes of turmeric and saffron and tamarind powder. This daily cleanse is called Puja which translates to something like cleansing prayers. Pushpa then takes her little tray of powders and burning incense to her garden of pots and certain plants get squished with spices and a smaller rangoli drawn in front of them, I'm guessing this is to help the weaker plants grow stronger. Then Pushpa goes to her little alter in the house and does her meditation and chanting and makes offerings to her Hindu Gods.
It's so beautiful to watch and it's such a gorgeous ritual to go through. It smells and looks divine. Then when I've returned from yoga she makes my breakfast.
I am in some kind of heaven.
And far be it from me to make you jealous but just look at my lunch!
For those of you wondering about the yoga? The less said about that the better,
I am battered, completely wrecked from it...
It will get better, I have booked an Ayurvedic massage this afternoon
for my poor muscles.
Yeah I know...sympathy lies somewhere in the dictionary between shit and syphilis...