Dear parents, future students, current students and other curious individuals, we’re three weeks into our stay in India and it’s fabulous! No one has fallen victim to the so called “Three-weeks crisis” while the worst case scenario has been a fractured foot from Bollywood dancing!

We were all warmly welcomed by the staff at the beautiful coastal Kailash resort where we all participated in a Hindu ritual, honoring the gods: Ganesh – god of food and new beginnings and Saraswati – the godess of learning and knowledge. We were given a quick miniature tour of the beautiful environment and proceeding to have our first lecture on India, by Sudha Ramachandran. After the intriguing lecture and a spicy lunch, we soon scattered about, finding our favorite hammocks, the pool area and of course the lovely near-deserted beach. The architecture of the buildings at our study center (Kailash) is truly peaceful and pristine. The owner explained to us how he had purchased authentic and almost antique building materials from destroyed temples and forts, which had been passed on from owner to owner throughout South Asia. And of course, finally in his hands, so he could rebuild them and restore them to their true honor and virtue. Below are a few pictures from the resort

An ancient granite statue of Ganesh surrounded by lush vegetation outside the Religion and Power classroom.

A North Western view of the Kailash resort.

And if you’re extremely lucky, one might spot a group of dolphins at our very own beach!
Many of us have already fallen for India and her incredible culture(s). We are greeted with vibrant and vivid smells from the:

chicken masala street vendors to the fresh fruit shake blenders, the cow shit to the human piss, the blossoming jasmines to the incents used during rituals, the human sweat to the open sewage and the masala chai to the spice markets. One is curious with the religious symbolism painted on each smiling forehead (three horizontal lines: Shiva worshippers, a U: Vishnu worshippers,) and ones’ eyes are gifted with religious parades, cows and buffalos walking down the streets, chaotic yet efficient traffic and the beautiful saris of the women. In the morning one wakes up to the morning prayers, the churches’ bells and the Hindu temples’ chanting.

It seems that there is much more purpose in life down here.

The students of the Religion and Power course had a great and solid start with Knut Jacobsen who took us on a Religious Pluralism Tour in Tamil Nadu for a fruitful 17 and a half hours. We visited the most significant Mosque, Hindu Temple and Christian Church in the region, first handedly encountering a lot of the literature which we are reading and even witnessing and participating in certain religious rituals and processions. Below is a video showing a Karadi Procession – a ritual where individuals dress and act as the gods, in this case Shivu – the god of destruction and his wife Parvati, accompanied by drummers (to mark that the place is sacred) and later men dancing with hooks to display extreme devotion to the gods.

Karsten

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