We went to the Taj Mahal yesterday. One of the most amazing experiences ever!!! I was gasping for air it was so breathtakingly beautiful! I didn't know what was more spectacular, the monument or the sheer amount of people that were there visiting it...thousands! I have about 500 pictures I think...Maybe later I'll bore you with them!
I had the time of my life this afternoon! Asha dressed me as a Kashmiri Bride! Every girl's dream, let me tell you! I'm sorry there are so many pictures of myself..it's a little embarrassing! But I will never get to wear such beautiful things again in my life! The sari was the finest silk tissue, Asha was given this sari by her mother-in-law to wear the day after her wedding. The tradition is that the bride returns to her home to show her family and friends the new jewelry she has received for her wedding. Asha wore this same sari for this occassion 50 years ago.
I will never wear jewels like this again!!! Emeralds, Pearls, Diamonds, Rubies...oh my! The fabric! Being draped in such fine beautiful fabric was a dream come true, you should have seen the brocade on the border!
And even Tim got dressed in a shervani!
Ahh... I really felt like a queen! What a treat this was, Asha is the sweetest mother! She fixed my hair, pleated the sari and she even hand made the piece for my forehead!
Then Asha and Jagdish performed the Pooja, they lit candles and prayed to Lakshmi. We listened to a song, wore a tika stained bracelets and received a tika bindi. It was so special for us to witness this ritual! Truly an authentic Indian experience!
After the Pooja, we watched fireworks outside on the street for over an hour, they were so beautiful! Much better than the 4th of July! Then we had a delicious, home cooked, vegetarian, Indian meal, such a treat!
Being lucky like us, our lack of planning landed us in India over the biggest holiday of the year~ boy do I love a holiday!! It is Diwali here today, and being with locals Jagdish & Asha makes is so much more fun! Diwali is the festival of lights, people light candles, lamps and decorate their homes with twinkle lights. The deity of Lakshmi symbolizes wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead. They pray on this day for a new year of luck and wealth! All last night and today we've seen and heard firecrackers going off which are part of the celebrations!
We went yesterday to the market to the famous Bengali Sweet Shop in Delhi! Seeing all the sweets (and the thousands of people buying them) was such a treat! Jagdish was picking off pieces and sneaking me tastes of all of the different varieties! Of course my camera was charging and I didn't get to take any photos, what a mistake! This was such a fun way to really experience a Diwali custom! The sweets are made of ground almond, pistachio, and cashew nuts. One of my favorites (and Asha's too) is a coconut one! They have real silver leaf pressed on the top that is edible! The taste is very sublte and delicious!
We've had a nice relaxing day at home and many of Jagdish and Asha's friends and family have stopped by to wish them a Happy Diwali, have a visit and drop off sweets! Last night we also saw the girls getting their Henna or Mehndi done for the celebrations today!
These Tibetan guys who owned the cafe were so nice! They all wore these PEACE shirts! Unfortunately this wasn't the best photo...but the cake was delicious! We ended up sharing it with all of the Indian men who worked at our hotel, they made us 'chai', had candles for the cake and we had a nice afternoon. It was definitely one to remember, not your average birthday~
We didn't get to have a nice dinner out since our bus was leaving for Delhi that night. But last night Jagdish and Asha took us to their club for a delicious meal, Tim had Rogan Josh and said it was his favorite dinner of our whole trip, so that made up for his lack of birthday dinner!
We had breakfast at this trendy little cafe! We missed sharing a cappuccino with my mother-in-law Robyn today!
Then we took a cab down this road called, "very steep road" for about an hour to Norbulingka.
The website describes Norbulingka as this:
"Norbulingka is dedicated to handing down tradition and restoring standards by providing training, education and employment for Tibetans. It supports an environment in which Tibetan community and family values can flourish. It reconciles the traditional creatively and respectfully with the modern, and seeks to create an international awareness of Tibetan values and their expression in art and literature."
The entire temple is hand painted, the architecture is really incredible.
We had the most peaceful lunch in the gardens!
We missed seeing the Karmapa because he and the Dalai Lama were at the Tibetan Children's Village celebrating the school's 48th anniversary. But we saw his entourage driving back and we caught a glimpse of him in the front seat of his jeep with his shades on! This afternoon we're going to the Dalai Lama's temple..but we doubt we'll see him, he's been sick in the hospital recently and he's going to Japan this week. We're not too stressed since we saw him last year in New Zealand. After returning back home we hiked up to Dharmkot, about 4K north east of Dharmsala. The views were beautiful!
Then we ran into these little monkey's on the trail:
They were all by themselves, walking home from school. This is a serious walk, like rugged terrain, uphill..and the oldest couldn't have been older than 5! The reached up and grabbed our hands, and we walked with them the rest of the way home. My heart melted into a puddle on the path. They spoke not one word of English, we couldn't even ask their names! I sang the ABC's with them, and then little one could sing along with me!
The blue house in the distance is where they lived. I could not believe that these teeny tiny precious little girls walked this route to school and back everyday. It was incredible! Tim had just said to me, "Imagine if how fit you'd be if you had to walk this everyday!"
On the way back down we ran into more school kids! Can you imagine sending your kids on this walk to and from school everyday? No school buses up here!
These monkey's were really horsing around!
I could eat them up!
ON YOUR MARK!
GO!!!!!!!! This is what they were yelling! SO cute!
Then we relaxed in our gardens and had some beers!
Best Saturday Ever!!!
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