Sitting here drinking a packet of coconut water in a hot summer day reminded me of Strange Tales of Tamil Nadu. It is a cautionary tale of excessively drinking this innocent fruit, it might turn out deadly.
Tamil Nadu – South Indian state secretly practices the ancient custom of thalaikoothal , an involuntary euthanasia of elderly dependents, sick children or the incapacitated who are deemed too troublesome to be taken care of by their family members. This is common in impoverished villages where families can’t afford the cost of caring for their old or the sick. Sometimes as with human greed, thalaikoothal is practised when property or money is coverted.
Thalaikoothal means head pouring, involving slow oil bath.
The old man is presented with a soothing oil bath in the wee hours of the morning, and fed with large amount of young green coconut water. The high potassium content in the coconut causes renal failure in the poor victim and the victim dies slowly while his relatives will decorate his deteriorating body with flowers and dresses him. Sometimes the whole family or the whole village would gather to celebrate his slow death, to mark the occasion to his eternal peace. Death, it seems is a blessing to his sufferings of old age.
So concludes my strange recollection. An cautionary tale of drinking too much of a good thing. Don’t drink copious amount of young coconut water. It is bad for you. But not when you practice Thalaikoothal.
Naga Sadhus of Varanasi
These are my naga sadhu friends I met in the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, and we met again in Varanasi when they moved there for the next celebrations.
We were lucky to have survived the big crazy storm that lasted for 2 days after the bathing day in the Kumbh Mela. Many tents had collasped and many sections were flooded in. It was sorta a mini Kumbh Mela gathering once again.
The nightly puja prayer ceremony, now mainly for Tourists coming to Varanasi, India. It was particularly crowded week in Varanasi, where visitors came from all over India and the world for the Kumbh Mela Festival in Allahabad, a few hours away from Varanasi
More images of the largest festival in the world, the Kumbh Mela Festival of India where 40 million people visited this month long event.
Enjoying the smokes of marijuana weed, the Sadhu Holy man decidedly sat right in front of me and performed the smoking rituals of getting high. – in Allahabad, India. No, he did not offer any smokes to me. Oh well.
The couple walked all the way from Bihar, India. They came with others fromtheir village and camped along the banks for a month. Most pilgrims visited the Kumbh Mela for the first time as it was expensive to travel and most of the villages are extremely poor. Official holy bathing days were the best time to visit the Kumbh Mela, these village folks were so happy being here and I could feel their excitement. The whole river bank were filled with joyful people laughing after taking their holy bath to wash away their karma.
This pilgrim just taken the holy bath in the icy cold waters of the holy river and was looking for his group. Often with such large crowds and queuing for their chance of bathing taking to wash away their karma, people get lost. Often the speakers installed around the river banks would having announcements of people looking for their lost relative among the millions
Nightly puja at a small shrine along the Ghat in Varanasi, India
Kids playing around a burning body in Varanasi, India : no qualms that they were around dead bodies or ashes, nor was it taboo for them to go bathe right next to the cremating bodies. Ahead of them were a group of Dobis, washing clothes right beside the flowing ashes, another man was brushing his teeth from the ganges river waters while others were dumping the ashes and looking for dead person’s gold jewellery next to him.
Spitting is such a frequent thing in India, everyone spits everywhere and anywhere, even in nice government hotels. From the Rich to the Poor, everyone here spits pretty much openly on the streets and anywhere public except their homes. You can see those horrid red betal nut stains on walls all over, even on hotel walls.
In Meghalaya where English is pretty much the main language, this is one of the walls that often gets that horrid red stains of dried saliva. Urgh
Kumbh Mela 2013 – the greatest bathing festival in Allahabad, India where 40 million pilgrims visit the holy rivers to wash away their karma
A naked holy naga sadhu performs tricks with his genitals, it was become a performance to entertain passerbys. To become a naked naga sadhu, this was part of the initiation as a way to test the body, representing full detachment even to one’s body and sexual desires. It is said that to become a full naga, one has to go thru a series of rigid test, including breaking their own penis and dipping themselves in the freezing waters of the Ganges 108 times.
The Naga Sadhus, famous for their nakedness running to take their holy bath in the ganges river.
Once every 12 years, the largest bathing festival happens in Allabahad, Central India. This 2013, more than 40 million pilgrimages visited this temporary mega city, aptly named Mega Tent city. Makeshift tents, ashrams, temples are built, organised in mini towns with its own hospital clinic and police stations. For the 1.5 months, pilgrimages and religious Holy people, the famous naked sadhus come and gather and await to take their holy bath in the rivers to wash away their karma.
It was one of my greatest experience, especially during special bathing days where millions would gather to take a short dip in the freezing waters to wash their sins away.
Many Hindus visit Varanasi, the ancient holy city of India for their pilgrimage and a few come to die here, and many others come to be thrown into the rivers of the Ganges.