While in Khajuraho, Kuldeep brought me along to experience other local Hindu traditions and activities. If I had only stayed in Khajuraho for a week, I likely would have missed out on loads of daily, locals happenings there…. read to the end of the post for the shocker 😮 !
Highlights of my whereabouts in Khajuraho included:
– Attending Kuldeep’s brother-in-law’s wedding with his family.
Wootwoot, I got invited to an Indian wedding!
Celebrating with hundreds of Indians, dancing until sunrise, definitely made for an entertaining night! However, this was an experience not to be repeated…
Being the sole ‘gringo’ (white guy) at the wedding, I was constantly surrounded by the Indian guests. I was literally cornered for a part of the night! I reached the point where I locked myself in a room just to be left alone for a few minutes… my seclusion lasted a total of 4 minutes when a village boy snuck in through the ceiling!
Unfortunately, I didn’t capture a photo of this at the wedding, so envision this: Hundreds of villagers from the groom’s family travel to the bride’s village for the evening of the wedding ceremony. After hours of partying, these hundreds of guests snuggle onto the cement floors of the village’s only school and sleep hip-to-hip until morning.
– Experiencing the village’s wedding season.
There were wedding celebrations (all arranged marriages) occurring every single night, sometimes multiple. As the village is only comprised of small family homes, the only option for a wedding venue is to take over all of the village streets! #blockparty
– Milking Kuldeep’s cow with his father.
I wasn’t permitted to milk the buffalo, as buffalos kick out of fear if they’re not familiar with the person milking them. Good ol’ tame cows.
– Bhang celebrations in the village.
We prepared bhang, an edible cannibus, from scratch using a local recipe. We used stones to grind the cannibus and sweet herbs into a paste, and then mixed it with water. Once complete, we did a poojah ceremony to connect with the spirits and honor the evening’s celebrations. We then consumed the bhang, and proceeded to play local instruments, drums, and sing melodic mantras for the remainder of the night!
– Living in Kuldeep’s sister-in-law’s village.
I slept on the rooftop of their home beneath the stars, with the wolves howling all night long 🙂 .
– Celebrating Shivaratri festival (the festival of Shiva)!
As a foreign-festival fiend, I was eager to participate in the Hindu celebrations. The first day of the festival featured temple visits in Khajuraho, followed by a strangely amusing, rowdy parade procession/ techno-fest in the evening. It’s also the grand opening of the week-long outdoor market, featuring hundreds of vendors and children’s activities!
Unfortunately, day two turned out to be a not-so-festive. Rather, it was a day filed with fear, astonishment, and crime investigation. In the middle of day, a local 8 year-old girl was gang-raped and murdered behind one of the vendor tents at the outdoor market :'(
This was the first rape in the history of Khajuraho. The festival was cancelled immediately that day, and the town basically shut down for business for the following 2 days. All the locals were alarmed and dedicated to finding the rapists. It was heart-warming to witness the extent of the locals’ commitment to locating the perpetrator.
As thousands of Hindus visit Khajuraho for the festival, the rapists were believed to be a visitor of Khajuraho, not a local. Unfortunately, the perpetrators were not found during my time there.
My thoughts on vagabonding travel style:
Without practicing a vagabonding attitude, I wouldn’t have experienced all of the incredible local life occurrences shared above… And this is why vagabonding trumps the city-hopping travel style
Vagabonding is about traveling slowly and without the confines of a rigid itinerary. This means LIVING in a city for 2 weeks, rather than just visiting for 3 days.
Vagabonding means giving yourself time to familiarize yourself with the corner fruit man, befriend a local family, and stumble upon the city’s hidden gems…. Vagabonding gives you the chance to experience the spontaneous cultural happenings of local life, which would be easily overlooked while you’re ticking beaches or cathedrals off a ‘to-do’ list.
Take a moment to reflect on how you choose to travel 😉
That’s the end of my time in Khajuraho! Hope these posts gave you some insight into Indian village life! Almost enough memories to last a lifetime, but not quite… Next up, learning the depths of life with powerful Baba Ji’s in Omkareshwar.
Sending positive vibes your way,