Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Staycation to India

By Curtis

India is on our list of places to see before we die. We love everything Indian from the food to the art to the history to the music. And yes, even Bollywood. Since we're still climbing out of the financial pit from our month in Austria, we won't be heading over to the Asian continent anytime soon. So instead, we decided to take a little Indian staycation by going to the Festival of India at the Hare Krishna temple in Spanish Fork.

"Hold on a minute," you might be thinking. "A Hare Krishna temple in Utah?" Yep, they've got one, and it's been there for quite a while. It's quite impressive for a small Utah town. And the Hare Krishnas seem to co-exist quite nicely with the Mormons.

Katie and I have been going out there for quite a few years now. One of our favorite events is the the Festival of India put on every September. Every year, it seems to get bigger. I don't know how many people we saw, but it looked in the thousands. This time, we took Tomas with us.

In the collage below are some shots of the temple. Notice that Katie wore her punjabi suit given to her by a former Indian student. On the main floor of the building, they have a vegetarian restaurant and gift shop. Upstairs is where they have a large room that I presume is used for religious ceremonies, chanting and yoga. On the night of the festival, they had a band singing Hare Krishna chants. The audience sat on the perimeter of the room, and those who wanted to danced in the middle. You can bet that if Chloe were there, I would have joined the dancing since it is my sworn duty as a father to embarrass her at every given opportunity.

The next collage shows Tomas with the animals. He had a good time feeding the llamas. In the bottom picture on the left, the llama gave Tomas a big lick on the back of the head just after I snapped the photo.

We enjoyed a great vegetarian meal. We had some sort of curry with garbanzo beans over rice, broccoli with something that tasted like meat but was most likely tofu, and something that tasted like thick sweetened Cream of Wheat. We've never been out to the temple to their restaurant, but now I want to give it a try.

As the sun set, we sat on the hill and watched the pageant of the epic Ramayana (the Hare Krishna equivalent to the Mormon pageants put on in the area). In the story, the hero, Rama, defeats the evil Ravana, an evil demon with ten heads. In the top middle of the collage, you can see Tomas and I in front of the 25' high wooden representation of Ravana. At the end of the play, Rama and his brother shoot arrows of fire at Ravana. The crowd cheers as evil is destroyed from the world.

In the picture below, you can also see some of the characters from the play. The costumes are really cool. The actors mime to a prerecorded soundtrack, and it's a bit corny. But, the play has charm, and we love it. I think it would be sad if it ever became a high tech, slick production.

Here is a little video clip of Ravana catching on fire and the following fireworks. If you look closely, you can see the arrows on fire flying.

It was a great little Indian vacation. I have a feeling we're not going to have much money for a while to do another big trip. So, I see in our future a Scottish staycation to Payson for the Scottish festival, a Swiss staycation to Midway for Swiss Days, and a Greek staycation to Salt Lake for the Greek Festival.

Who knew Utah was so international?

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