The 43rd Annual Day celebrations kicked off at 10am. There was a showcase of music, singing and dance as well as a discourse from Rajiv on the mysticism of time and space. I arrived a little late as I couldn't bear to miss my morning practice, I know some people can do without it - even Guruji would take a day of rest on a Sunday - but I feel truly appalling without it, so it has to be pretty life or death for me to skip it. When I arrived the practice hall was packed, I crept along the back looking for a place to squeeze in and noticed with a smile that Prasant was snoozing in his chair. After the show was finished there was a huge shared lunch for all attendees. A beautiful celebration.
Annie and I jumped in a rickshaw bound for Laxmi Road. Time is running out to get around to all the places for buying presents. Normally by this point I would have seen and done so much more, but somehow this trip I just haven't found the time. I was on a mission to find a sari for my 10 year old daughter. Today is Ganesha's Birthday ( Elephant deity who is the remover of obstacles) and this was a BIG deal. Ganesh is the deity of choice in Pune and it is hard to explain just how deeply he is revered. There are many, many shrines to Ganesh all over Pune, some small and humble and some large and elaborate. In the largest Ganesh temple in the centre of Laxmi Road we were met with a sight which genuinely made us gasp. This temple is always an impressive spectacle but today it had been adorned with literally thousands and thousands of fresh flowers- it was truly magnificent, although the photos really can't seem to capture it. There was a carnival atmosphere as worshippers flocked to the temples to pay homage and the streets were absolutely packed, so that we found ourselves being carried along in a sea of people completely unable to stop as the tide surged through the narrow market street. Inside the temple we removed our shoes at the door and went in to pay our respects. We were welcomed in and given a sweet to eat and offered a bowl of fruit to join in with the celebration.
The sari shop was also busy and chaotic as they were offering a 70% discount in honour of the birthday. As we entered we were hit by a wall of excited chatter and the floor was literally strewn with saris as people searched for the best bargains. I did manage to pick one up but had a bit of a communication problem - the salesman told me that the blouse (choli) was included but I couldn't see it and thought perhaps I needed to take it to a tailor to get that part made up out of the material provided, but he insisted no, I didn't need to do that and that it was a complete sari. When I got it home and unwrapped it, there was no sign of a blouse and I'm not sure now how to get one. Indian friends, please feel free to comment and advise!