My friend probably rates this place a 11 on 10 due to 2 things… the ceremonies around death and the shopping.
Dealing with death
My friend has been exposed to death of family and friends so much more than I have, even from early on in her life with the tragic death of her brother. She has supported many of them in the last phase of their lives and has witnessed them being taken away. Guess that’s why she is curious to understand how other cultures deal with the passing away of loved ones.
In Pushkar this becomes very visible around the lake. We had witnessed people morning, found bones at the shore and saw some families performing rituals where we believe saw them throw ashes and bones in the lake. I found a great link with more details here.
It was fascinating and so extremely different than what we know. The typical approach for us is to have the deceased prepared for viewing and put in a coffin, an obituary is put in the newspaper and letters (yes paper ones) are mailed to anyone in the address book, an evening wake at the funeral home is foreseen to say goodbye, a day later a ceremony in a church or funeral home followed by cremation or burial at the graveyard. Then close family and friends are invited to the “coffee table” with sandwiches and cake. Everything is quite formal, people wear black clothes and in general it is quite silent. We also feel quite ashamed to cry in public.
This is not at all what we witnessed here in Pushkar, with the colorful clothing, public display of emotion and a more active participation in the whole ceremony.
The only thing we understood is similar to dealing with death at home: also in Rajasthan it costs quite a lot of money to get the ceremony done and anything around it.
And yes, we also got our Pushkar Passport, upon which you pay “what you want” as a donation at a kiosk, where they then LOUDLY “confirm” how much (or how little??) you have given. I found that disturbing and an invasion of my privacy… Must be a cultural thing.
Fun and cheap shopping
We thoroughly enjoyed hopping in and out one shop after the other to find out that stuff was really cheap here, especially after bargaining. And that was something my friend got really good at by now…When she was bargaining down an already real good deal for a bunch of clothes for 2 euro, I gave her the look “really? that is less than a loaf of bread costs in Belgium!”.
We also shopped for our white holi-outfits as we had a suspicion that the white would never become white again after that celebration.
And obviously, after sleeping in palaces, haveli’s, on ancient hunting grounds and under the naked sky, we also wanted to sleep in a tent. There is only one thing… we don’t really like the normal “camping in the woods” stuff with ants and spiders crawling over and in our bed. So, GLamping it is :). We found a nice place with luxury tents with attached bathrooms, in a nicely maintained garden and nice staff (I need to find another word for “nice”) walking the grounds to hand over an umbrella when some rain drops start falling or when you want to go back to your tent.
Pushkar, another brilliant stop in our Rajasthan trip…