I’m going to keep this one quick as it’s hot and I need to rest a little. Last night I walked around Arunachala by full moon with about 100,000 other people. What a scene. People just walking and walking, with roadside stops for food, many many temples with hundreds of people queued up to go through and pay their homage, and hundreds of Sadhu’s lined up on the side of the road accepting alms. It was a long walk too, About 15km, and in all it took me almost 4 1/2 hours and I was beat by the time I got back. I wore my shoes but almost everyone was barefoot.
The mountain is a volcano and is synonymous with fire and thus is the home to Shiva, the Destroyer/Transformer. Very important site to Hindus.
It was great doing that here though, as in America it would have been a 15k race, or a costume fundraiser. Here, people were just doing it as an important part of their religion.
I ran out of change on the route, so I stopped once to break a 50rupee note with some Sandhu’s and one of them spoke great English. His name is Shiv and he asked me to sit with him for awhile. I did so and it turns out he was an IT Marketing Manager for 17 years and gave it all up to just live a simple more spiritual life. We’re getting together tonight for dinner and he’s going to act as interpreter I think for me in talking with the other Sadhu’s. The man closest to the camera in this picture with his palms together here is Shiv. We’ll see what happens but I’m trusting that I stopped at his stop last night for a reason so we’ll see where all this leads.
One last thing. While walking, a man asked me to take his picture with his friends as he guessed I had a camera in my bag. He’s the one on the right in the picture. Once I did, we started walking and he held my hand. He’s in his later 50s I’d guess and we walked hand in hand for at least a half a mile. It was very sweet and I just went with it. Neither of us spoke the other’s language. But there was something very sweet happening. He seemed intent on buying me something to eat/drink, but I kept turning down various things as I was worried about health safety. Finally a Papaya stand appeared and I agreed to eat that. Seemed safe enough. So the guy at the stand give me a plate of freshly cut papaya and then he rinses his hands in a big bucket of water. Yikes, so there is some nasty water on these dishes perhaps. Anyway, we had walked hand in hand for so long, could not communicate by language and he had already paid for it, so I just said to myself, “well, it was bought with love so I’ll have to trust that it will be good for me.” And it was.