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....

19 September 2009

Moulded to some heavenly norms

An avowed anti-religious monument, anti-ritual person, I have already confessed to my abiding affection for Himachal's temples. But every now and then, I am brought up short. I stumble upon some structure, some pantheon, or tabernacle which reminds me of all the things that are so wrong about the Hindu faith.
The Bhimakali temple in Sarahan is one such place. Seen objectively, it is a not unattractive structure. It has the square shape structure, surmounted by a three-layered, pagoda-like roof typical of this region.
The "shikhar" or the top of the temple is embellished with a lotus, sun and sunburst motif. It is also festooned by half-moons and six-pointed stars which remind my companion of Islamic and Jewish motifs!

It would be wrong to blame the temple. It is merely a case of the temple's managers being (literally) more loyal than the king. In their zeal to prove that this is the most important relgious building in the region, nay, the state, they have applied the spit and polish routine so ardently as to have robbed the temple of the friendly homeliness which endears the viewer to similar structures elsewhere. The gorgeous wood has been polished with an alarmingly yellow-tinged varnish. While I'm not aware of the effect this synthetic application has on old wood, it does not seem a good thing even to my lay-person's eyes.
The interiors resemble a well-appointed (Public Works Department) guest-house, with the wholly-inappropriate marble floor covered in jmaroon and green jute matting and the wooden bannisters painted a snowy white. The poor deities look terrified, locked up behind huge steel bars in the sanctum sanctorum.

My distaste for this temple is further bolstered by the presence of that other entity I so cordially detest: the temple priest. The one in the Bhimakali temple runs to type. An insensitive motor-mouth, he assumes that my companion and I are not only ignorant of Hindu mythology (we are not), but also that we need a crash course right there and then. We are made to sit in the inner sanctum and out pours a lurid sacerdotal tale of lust, envy, anger and revenge. We both squirm, yawn politely and then, finally just resign ourselves to a boring afternoon's story-telling. Our plight is not very much improved by our lack of monetary offerings to this already apparently prosperous deity.

The irksome narrative is thankfully livened up the appearance of the creature in shining armour! We focus on its antics instead and come out breathing in relief.


Vinayak Razdan said...

I hate that ghastly yellow varnish! Don't know why it's so popular.

nityin said...

The Raja Sahib.. recently in his tenure as a CM spent a bomb on the restoration of this temple. And this was carried out by the PWD.

Nicely put, it resembles like a PWD store house!

Gallimaufry said...

Vinayak, it's popular with the blessed PWD and its maaliks.

Nityin, it sure looks like that!

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