leaving the backwaters

Before we take leave of the back waters resort, I thought we should mosey about the grounds to see some of the other interesting things about the resort to contemplate at length.

With all the walking we were doing during this tour, I never felt compelled to exercise (oooh, what an ugly word that is!), but if we had felt so inclined, this is the Fitness Center we would have come to. I thought it was far more interesting for the art work in the front and the architectural design than for actual use.

Here you can see some of the more elaborate detail of the tile trim–a perfect place for a pigeon conference it seems.

Just why this fellow with a ferocious lion’s face is standing outside the entry to the gym is sort of a mystery to me. However, I’ll venture into territory I know very little about in order to to explain my presumption.

Most of us, I believe, are familiar with Hinduism’s view of reincarnation that tells us that a soul has to cross 8.4 million different species before it can become human. In order to become truly enlightened about the spiritual life, we must understand the physical life of these incarnation. At the same time, in Hindu legends, gods routinely took on half man/half animal forms, each form being an expansion of the supreme God–Brahman–and each form assuming the nature of the animal represented. Most of us are probably familiar with the elephant god Ganesh, or perhaps the monkey god Hanuman. How they came to be are very good stories, but much too long to go into here.

Gods are called devas and goddesses are called devis. The fourth incarnation of Vishnu is the deva, Narasingha. In this form, half lion and half man, Vishnu killed a demon and thus gained immunity from attacks by man, beast or god. Perhaps then, the implication is that if you work out here regularly, you too may take on the powers of the lion and you won’t worry about attacks by man, beast or god.

Most Hindu deities are worshiped with their consorts alongside, based on the belief that the male-female duality is essential for the sustenance of the universe. Perhaps then, I thought, this might be Lakshmi, a consort of Lord Vishnu (the well endowed lion/human above, or Vishnu’s 4th incarnation). Lakshmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth and wisdom–and along several other generous endowments, such as courage, she is the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. Thus if Ladies frequent this gym alongside their Lords they might likewise assume the similar graces. But wait! The breasts looks way too tiny than the swollen mammary glands of the typically endowed Hindu goddess. Then there are those strings. Only males wear the sacred threads of the Brahmin across their chests. So my theory is shot to hell. I protested that women are the only ones who carry things on their heads, but he says a Brahmin commoner, might. So my theory is shot to hell. But I like my original theory so much I decided to leave it.

Now you can take as little or as much time looking at these photographs as you wish, but I urge you to take a really close look for deeper understanding. Just a suggestion!

It’s always a good idea to take a final bathroom break before heading off on an automobile journey, so we have a final look and check for anything forgotten in our room. (That’s a very appropriate name for a toilet, don’t you think?)

Now we say goodby and proceed in our tourist van–decorated with the driver’s rosary and plastic Mary–to Kottayam, a town in the state of Kerala in India that is the center for Syrian Christians. This very typical street scene not only gives us a glimpse of everyday traffic, but we can observe the simpler cotton sarees most women wear daily. Notice also the dhoti (one is folded double, the other seems a shorter version) on the men in the center. It’s a length of white cotton usually with a machine embroidered gold or otherwise colored thin border often worn without a shirt at home, or with western-style shirts in the streets and temples.

Here we are at St. Mary’s Orthodox Church–or Cheriapauy, Kottayam–which in the local language literally means “small church.” It was established in 1579 AD. It’s pretty simple inside with only a few gold relics on the wall behind the podium–unlike most Catholic churches throughout the world. The walls are adorned with paintings and artwork (click here to see)–beautiful without being ostentatious. No less beautiful to me–despite its simpleness–was this broom resting on a bench outside the chapel. I wouldn’t want to use it–it would be a back breaker for me–but I might attach it to a wall in my guest room if I owned one like it.

This old cemetery, as you might expect, certainly caught my attention. Right away I noticed a death date of 01-1-1089 and was astounded by the idea of so old a monument. Then I learned from another, more wizened visitor, that the date refers to the Islamic calendar used to date events and to determine the proper day on which to celebrate Islamic holy days and festivals in many Muslim countries. Since 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII decreed it, we’ve been using the Gregorian calendar.

Next stop: Trivandrum, a very old and charming city near the southwestern tip of southern India, and home of a very ancient Hindu temple, Padmanadhaswami, whose priests nixed the idea of me or ML going inside. Hope you can join us for a simple tale of honesty.

4 thoughts on “leaving the backwaters

  1. I am fascinated by all I’m learning about the cultural and otherwise of India. Words fail me. I’m leaving Tues. a.m. nut will catch up (I hope) when I return.

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