Pushkar: The Holy City, but don’t look behind those closed doors.

Pushkar is filled with pilgrims that come to the lake to wash, pray, and make a good-luck offering to their families.   As I was walking to the lake, a man stopped me, asked where I was going, and when I said the lake, he gave me a small handful of flower petals.  He made sure I held them in my “lucky hand”, that being the right hand, and told me to go to the lake and make a wish for my family.

At first I thought it was MANG Pizza, then I realized it was supposed to be MANGO!

When I got to the lake, a Brahman took me by the hand and had me recite a long series of words that comprised a prayer offering.  He took my flower petals, mixed them with three colored pigments, and after much ritual, he put a yellow dot on my forehead.  He had me say a bunch of more words, and I put my flowers in the lake.  It was all very nice, until the subject of money came into the prayer offering.

He insisted I incorporate the actual amount I was preparing to commit into my prayer as part of my “good karma”, and “good luck wish to my family” (the more good karma one wants to have, and the more family members one wants to bestow good wishes upon, the correspondingly higher cost there is, apparently with this individual). Of course, anything I gave was up to me; the money was going to a charity (which seeing how it was all playing out, I happen to believe… hey, I got a receipt!).

He insisted I pay in US dollars, and he even had a recommended amount.  When I said I would pay in Indian Rupies, and I’d pay what I wanted to pay, he frankly got a bit testy for a devout religious person.  He then showed me what other westerners paid (from the receipt book), to which I said all very calmly and nicely, that didn’t really matter to me.  So, bottom line:  give what you want, the amount doesn’t matter, but really good karma comes at a price, and good wishes come at an even higher price, and the amount is variable based on which country you come from.

He put the string bracelet on my right wrist as a proof that I made my offering, and in the end, he seemed satisfied even though I fell seriously short on the financial amount.

Washing at the lake pools.

Suffice to say, Pushkar is a religious city.  No alcohol, all restaurant meals are strictly vegetarian, and may even be vegan as far as I can tell so far.   I didn’t know about the alcohol rule, and asked about it at the restaurant.  I was told I could have a beer brought to my room; however, I had to pay for it in advance, and someone would go outside the Pushkar city limits to buy it for me.   They even brought me a small refrigerator for my two-beer purchase.

After dinner I went to my room.  There was a knock at the door.  In comes the person I spoke to the beers about.  He has this huge bulge in his pants, and I can tell you it had nothing to do with him seeing me!  He steps in my room, closes the door, and removes two bottles of beer from under his belt.  In his pocket he had a small bottle of vodka for another guest.    When I asked about a bottle opener, he smiled and pointed to the large metal dangler hanging from my room key.  It’s a bottle opener, for Cokes, he suggests with a bit of a wink.

One of the many stairways down to the lake.

Cows, cows, cows….

~ by Robert on June 11, 2011.

One Response to “Pushkar: The Holy City, but don’t look behind those closed doors.”

  1. Nepal is one of the best destination around the world for Adventure Activities.


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