Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Bullish Tale

Thanks to the lack of power, the driver of our motorized tricycle was unable to dodge in and out of traffic, so our trip to the Bull Temple was uneventful. Of course, we had a bit of drama when it came time to pay the driver, who conveniently had no change, and then insisted on waiting for us. I repeatedly told him not to bother and I had every intention of slipping out the back door. 
The stairway to the temple was framed by two huge, phallic looking bull horns--at least we knew we were at the right place. As soon as our foot hit the last stair a woman graciously beckoned us over and had us put our shoes next to her, a service not "offered" to others. We could have resisted and left our shoes anywhere, like the other visitors, but I figured a few cents would be a small price to pay to ensure that our hi-tech footwear was still waiting for us when we exited the shrine.
As devotees entered the holy building they were given a smokey blessing while we were pulled to the side and given a mumbled history of the majestic beast before us. The keeper of the sacred cow demonstrated how oil is used to make the granite statue's skin glisten. After a quick walk about the large monolithic statue (20ft in length and 15ft in height), we were once again pulled to the side and given a private blessing--that left us with a rose in hand, red dot on our forehead and a few dollars lighter. 

Now, Mark may have been in search of the bull, but for me it was the butter I was interested in & I am not talking about the kind that you spread on toast. I had read about how in addition to the bull statue, the grounds that we were visiting also were home to an 18ft high statue of Ganesha that is covered with 220 pounds of butter!
Once again, we found ourselves walking aimlessly trying to find something Mark didn't believe could exist. I have to admit, a larger than life idol covered in butter did seem a bit farfetched, but I was on a quest. After strolling through an amazing garden--an oasis in a chaotic city--we found a map. Miraculously Mark was able to decipher it. Perhaps it was the power of the bull; personally, I would have headed in the opposite direction. 
Soon we were in front of what has to be the world's richest--well, maybe not monetarily but certainly in cholesterol--deity. Here the crowd was much more frenetic than those worshiping the bull. Everyone in the crowd was fighting their way to the front of a cordoned area where the keeper of the Hindu God of Success appeared to be pouring small amounts of melted butter into the devotees' hands, who would then spread this over their hair and skin. As the crowd followed the butter, there was a brief opening and we were able to work our way to the front of the temple. The large figure of Ganesha looked more like wax than butter, and I was still unsure how they kept if from melting. We decided to skip on the blessing (I wasn't sure when I would be washing my hair next) but, before we exited, we left two roses in honor of the elephant-headed God and quietly slipped out the back door.

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