Indians are loud and boisterous. This trait is woven into their psyche; I don’t think they even realize this as everyone is like that. I suspect that it stems from having such an enormous population; with so many speaking loudly at once, they have to raise their voices just to be heard. When a Hindu visits a temple they ring a bell, a large and beautifully crafted and sonorous bell. It awakens the gods, announces the worshiper’s presence to the gods and asks that he be acknowledged and noticed. The sound lasts for a minimum of seven seconds so that it echoes your seven healing centers or the seven chakras in your body. The sound of the bell has the potential to achieve a unity between both the left and right sides of the brain.
Within a large temple complex like Murdeshwar, there are numerous shrines that honor various deities, each with its own temple bell. A devotee rings the bell before he offers his prayers and worship begins, inviting the deity to accept his prayers, helping to ward off evil forces.
During my brief visit to Murdeshwar, there were many Ayyappan men on pilgrimage. This sect makes a pilgrimage to Sabarimala, Kerala at specific times during the year. There are many rules regarding what they wear: black or blue lungis, a specific set of beads called a mala with their god, Ayyappa hanging from it and many other requirements about what they eat, how they behave and how they prepare for the pilgrimage. Women between ten and fifty years of age are not allowed on these pilgrimages. This is currently under scrutiny by the High Court but I have little hope that this will change.
As a group, these men are quite foreboding but individually they are just your typical middle class man who probably has a job in technology.
Everyone was praying and taking photos with their cellphones, all at the same time. It was a very unusual mix of devotion, holiday makers relaxing, children making mischief and one foreigner trying to capture it all. This is one of those places that I know I will return to soon.