Presentation at St. Mary Magdalene School (me on stage in purple dress)
When I saw our newest topics for our next blog, I thought how easy, I can truly combine both questions into one answer. Of all the places I would have ever want to visit, it would be India; in the past few years I have been lucky enough to visit there twice, each time for a month’s vacation. When my dearest friend, who is from India, moved back about 6 years ago, I thought I would never really ever see him again. When he invited me to visit India, I couldn’t have gotten on the plane fast enough; 26 hours of air flight, but well worth it.
From the second I arrived in Bangalore, India, which is in the southwestern part of India, I was totally in awe and overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of the people. I had no idea my friend Paul had arranged a whole month of traveling and activities, each one a beautiful memory. My first day we left for Goa, which is one the west coast of India, and runs along the Arabian Sea. Dating back to before the 3rd century, Goa, the smallest state in India is rich with history. I visited many ancient Cathedrals, some dating back to the 13th Century; one, The Cathedral of St Francis Xavier, actually has St Francis’ body incased in a glass coffin surrounded by gold. I also made friends with 2 gypsies who lived on the beach.
Goa . Arabian Sea St. Francis Xavier (body in casket)
We next traveled to Tamil Nadu, which is in South India, to meet our friend Albert and his family. From there Albert joined us along our journey, where we met up with 4 more of their friends. I then got a tour of all of South India, with it’s many ancient Hindu temples, one of which is the Temple of the Lord Rama; and Catholic Churches dating back to the early centuries. Although we visited the “fertility gods” there, I luckily didn’t need their help! At another Temple I was blessed by an elephant! Another beautiful spot we visited was the Hogenakktal Falls. People go there to get massaged in their waters, or you can walk along the rocks of the Falls (which we did, and yes, I did slip down a rock). From there we traveled to Mysore, to visit the most beautiful palace, which was built in 1897.
\Temple of Lord Rama Inside Temple
Me being blessed by an elephant!
Hagenakkal Falls Paul & I at Falls
Visiting Mysore Palace
Besides all the sightseeing we did, I was lucky enough to visit a few schools, which Paul’s friends own. In one school, which Paul’s sister owns, they dedicated a special day for my visit with children ages 3-7, dancing all the ceremonial dances in their beautiful costumes. As in each ceremony I attended, they always start with a ceremony of lighting a candle in oil, which is a very powerful symbol in human consciousness and enlightenment. Afterwards, I went to each classroom where the children each sang a special song for me, and I in turn taught the children songs that children in American would sing. Most surprising was when Paul told me I was to be the guest of honor at a special ceremony at Albert’s school, St. Mary Magdalene (name sound familiar?) Again, we started with the candle lighting ceremony. As I sat on the stage, I was again entertained with the many ceremonial dances in their beautiful and colorful costumes. Of course, I was not told until that afternoon that as guest of honor, I would have to give a small speech to all the children and their families who were attending this feast. So as I started to write my small speech, Paul mentioned that I would also be speaking it in their native language, which is Tamil. I did actually managed to get through that, and at the end I was presented with a beautiful gift from the children. One thing that did amaze me the most when meeting all these children was just not their excitement of meeting someone from America, but how well they spoke English and their wanting to learn so much knowledge in everything
Children dancing their custom dances Me visiting the children in each class
Since I was there for a total of 2 months, you can imagine that this is just a small sampling of the many beautiful experiences I had, and the many f friends I made while there. Some of which I chat with almost everyday online. Although we only traveled all along the South of India, there is so much more beauty to behold throughout India which I hope to see one day soon.