Chat at the ghats

On the same day as Jameson's birthday the women of Varanasi fasted so their children would be blessed. They had been fasting for two days now, the festival know as Chat was to mark the end of their hunger. In the evening the Ganga river was crowded with families presenting food to the goddess of the waters. 

The mothers baptized themselves three times while the fathers held them steady. Baskets full of coconuts, fruits and sweets were carried into the river by the blessed mothers who spun in circles while the family poured water and milk upon the offerings. 

After the food was blessed and the sun had set the families prepared their camps along the ghats, the celebration wasn't over until sunrise the next day. All night children and adolescents lit fireworks while street musicians clapped their songs into the evening air. 

We watched the festival from a boat full of young men and a baby monkey who had adopted us as friends.
They knew it was Jameson's birthday and bought him a cake as a surprise. They sang happy birthday and smeared icing on his face, then lit fireworks on the edges of the boat. The panicked monkey climbed from head to head but really wanted nothing to do with anyone but her human father. 

Small candles surrounded by flowers within floating tree leaves were offered to the Ganges. All around us small cups of light drifted with the rivers current. We added one to the group, as a birthday blessing, and to the journey of birth and life. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:59 PM

    What a great way to spend your birthday!! Love you!