Why this blog is called "Gallimaufry".

gal-uh-MAW-free\, noun.

Originally meaning "a hash of various kinds of meats," "gallimaufry" comes from French galimafrée; in Old French, from the word galer, "to rejoice, to make merry"; in old English: gala + mafrer: "to eat much," and from Medieval Dutch maffelen: "to open one's mouth wide."

It's also a dish made by hashing up odds and ends of food; a heterogeneous mixture; a hodge-podge; a ragout; a confused jumble; a ridiculous medley; a promiscuous (!) assemblage of persons.

Those of you who know me, will, I’m sure, understand how well some of these phrases (barring the "promiscuous" bit!) fit me.

More importantly, this blog is an ode to my love for Shimla. I hope to show you this little town through my eyes. If you don't see too many people in it, forgive me, because I'm a little chary of turning this into a human zoo.

Stop by for a spell, look at my pictures, ask me questions about Shimla, if you wish. I shall try and answer them as best as I can. Let's be friends for a while....

31 August 2009

The Temple of Friendship

A joyous weekend in Chindi and Karsog. All the ingredients worked to make it perfect: a great travel companion (may I name you, G-m?), superb weather, wondrous scenery... And if that wasn't enough, temple upon beautiful temple in hidden nooks and crannies.
Let me make one thing clear. I'm not a religious person. I exercise the God-given right of every Hindu to reject most elements of the faith into which I was born. I detest the monuments that man has raised to his deities, all the while trampling upon and indeed excluding a large chunk of his fellow beings. I have an active loathing for the middlemen who seek to tell us lay people how we must live, what we must eat, drink, read or who we must consort with. The conventions and protocols of my faith bother me and anger me by turn.
Yet, like Mary, there is something about the temples of Himachal. Is it the near-pagan forms of belief? Is it a yet-unsullied innocence? Is it their Arcadian air, as yet not contaminated by the big bucks and big Cheeses of Hinduism? I am going to post a series about them. Judge for yourself and tell me, gentle reader.
Temple no. 1 in this series is the temple of Chindi Mata, found in Chindi. This is located in Karsog tehsil, about 90 kilometres from Shimla. It is on the main road, and thus, easy to find.
"Chindi" is possibly derived from "Chandika". This is a leading female deity of the Hindu pantheon. She is also known as the "violent and impetuous one", and is said to have been born from the enrgies of male divinities. She has gorgeous tresses and is multi-armed, each one adorned with auspicious weapons, jewels, garlands and rosaries of prayer beads. The deity in the Chindi temple is no different.

What I liked about this little place was its neighbourly air. Surely there's something benign about a place where a dozen puppies frolic freely and see nothing in sleeping at the feet of a tiger (the animal familiar of Chandi)?

The little old lady resting in the temple precincts offered us a puppy, a first in a Hindu temple for me. My experience has been of priests directly or discreetly demanding offerings to please the deity!

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