Babar, is that you?

Trip Start Oct 26, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Fiji  , Viti Levu,
Saturday, September 7, 2013

Upon arriving in Port Denarau, a switch had been flipped and we were instantly transported from tranquil Fiji to any marina resort complex in the world, complete with a Hard Rock Café with the employees screeching out "YMCA" with the guests following suit with their arm motions… too much.

We took the bus into Nadi for a step into a more familiar Fiji and found ourselves in the central market with vendors selling fresh fruit and veggies by the pile, with a colorful mix of Indian and Fijian culture. Aside from re-provisioning, the main purpose of the trip was to visit the Sri Siva Subramaniya, an ornate Hindu Temple which is the largest in the southern hemisphere. It is an amazing site of colorful buildings surrounded by sculpture, statues, and mural paintings. As timing would have it, we were there for the week long celebration of the birth of Ganesha, the son of Shiva who has the head of an elephant and the body of a multiple armed person or siddha. We spoke with one of the monks of the temple and were invited back in several days for an evening of events followed by dinner. How could we turn that down?

When we returned at the appointed time, 5:30 on Saturday, things were still being put together and it gave us time to see the creation of what was in essence disposable art. There was one main clay sculpture of Ganesha, which was decorated in ribbons, garlands, fabric, flowers, and other shiny things in the center of the temple. All the flare and lively colors were fabulous and a drag queen's dream come true. There were several other smaller sculptures in other shrines around the grounds. Incense, candles, offerings of coconuts, fruit, oils, and other things were placed on tables in front of and beside the main image. The event actually began closer to 7:00.

As the worshipers arrived with their offerings, they would walk around the main temple many times (always on multiples of three) before entering. They would then place their offering and purify themselves with smoke from incense or small oil fires, ash, and colored powders of red, green, and yellow.

Ganesha is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, ensuring success in endeavors, the patron of arts and sciences and the holder of intellect and wisdom.   Often. a mouse is sitting near the feet of Ganesha and gazing at the tray of sweet offerings or laddus. A mouse symbolizes the ego that can nibble all that is good and noble in a person.

A Hindu priest came from India to perform the ceremony this evening. There was much chanting, blessing with water and flower petals, wafting of smoke, and some of the offerings were burned to ash, which was mixed with water and placed on the followers.

The ceremony was followed with a cultural program of music and singing, complete with a harmonium, drums and a clarinet looking pipe that could also have been played to bring cobras out of a basket. Interesting, but not pleasing to our ears.  Then it was on to dinner.

We had met several people who led us to the line – a vegetarian curry dinner served Indian style… eating rice, dahl, curry, and pickle (chutney sauce) with your fingers was a challenge, at least for us. How to mix, mash, and lift without wearing was the challenge of the evening. I felt like a two year old eating strained carrots with my fingers, while the group of older women sitting across from us barely seemed to need a napkin. Oh well, eventually we were part of the clean plate club. Bruce, being a lefty also raised a few eyebrows as eating is what you do with your right hand… Oh well!

After an interesting evening, we were offered a ride to the bus stop to catch the last bus back to our other reality. Any removal of obstacles or increased success which comes as a benefit of this event can’t hurt! 

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Howard and Lynn on

Great to see you guys still having a blast. We are in Chaleston SC and really like the place .Keep the news coming. Love Howard and Lynn

Joan on

OMG!! You guys are still at it, having more adventures. I attended this festival in Varanasi India, fabulous.
Bruce, you must have given them a shock as one knows what they use their left hand for...enough said.
I am beyond envy at this stage, but enjoy all your news so much.
We are going to miss you again in Zihua this winter.
Love you guys. Fair winds

Janice from Toronto on

Ahoy Mateys!
As always....sounds like a never-ending fantasy! Except for the Hard-Rock cafe!
Keep the stories coming to the arm-chair travellers.
Safe sailing
Hugs and Kisses

Maxine C. on

Your trip is an education -- all those cultures and customs - just amazing.
Love hearing your news.

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