Full Moon Gathering at Kolayat

Ever Watchful Eyes (on me!)

The car bounced along the road and the landscape turned barren and dusty; I wondered what I was getting myself into. Always up for an adventure, I eagerly agreed to accompany my host into the Rajasthan desert for a special, annual full moon festival.

As we approached our destination, Kolayat, traffic came to a standstill. Everywhere vehicles were bumper to bumper, inching slowly forward. Colorfully dressed groups of determined villagers walking along the side of the road caught my attention. Excitement pulsed through me. Although I am uncomfortable in large crowds, a unique experience like this one was why I had traveled to this distant corner.. There wasn’t another foreigner in sight and everyone was smiling, including me.

The focus of this occasion is a dip during the full moon in the artificial lake that has the power to absolve one of all sins. In this distant corner of arid north-western Rajasthan, all sources of water are extremely rare.

The Lake that Never Runs Dry

Apart from its contradictory location, in the middle of the desert, the lake is unremarkable and murky but has miraculously never run dry. Fifty-two  assorted stone steps or ghats lead down to the water’s edge where the pilgrims gather at auspicious times for the holy dip. India has hundreds of such places. This occasion honors Kapil Muni, a revered sage who according to legend attained salvation under a Peepal tree here and left his worldly body.

My host left me to wander, observe and photograph to my heart’s content. It was another uniquely Indian ambiance where the serious and spiritual and the festive and gay converge.

Family Fun

I quickly gave up on the idea of circling the lake because of the throngs of people everywhere. All sorts of scenic vignettes popped into view without having to go too far.

Holy Woman

There were hundreds of holy people seeking donations, offering trinkets like prayer beads, lockets and charms. The mood was congenial without the usual persistent pressure to buy.

Mischievous Sadhus

Blessing Aplenty

 

Naturally, my presence was cause for interest and amusement but all in a bemused and friendly way. Most people thrilled when my lens landed on them. They were enjoying the scenery as much as I was.

The Villagers Look On

 

 

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About ninagrandiose

I am based in NYC but travel regularly to India and Mexico. Both of these countries feel like home. In India I scour the country in search of fabulous textiles to incorporate into my clothing designs. I sit back and let the ambiance and wonder of India seep into my consciousness so I can be inspired to write about what India is for me. I bring a limited number of people to India on exclusive and intimate tours of my favorite hangouts. In Mexico I take in the natural beauty that surrounds me and dance the night away. I constantly give thanks for all this and am pleased to share it all with you.
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8 Responses to Full Moon Gathering at Kolayat

  1. Dr.V.Sridhar says:

    Thank you for the post Liked it

  2. arv! says:

    I have visited Kolayat earlier this year but at a wrong time. So I could not explore it. I couldn’t capture famed Lotus because it was wrong time of the year. Thanks for sharing pictures

  3. ninagrandiose says:

    You’ll just have to come back!

  4. Victoria says:

    Thank you~ just seeing this and one of my favorite posts ever. From the mischievous sadhus to the villagers enjoying the ritual.. as you said so truly the mix of the sacred and the joyful everyday life. As always, wonderful photos.. makes me feel like I’m there.

    • ninagrandiose says:

      Thank you, Victoria. Being there was a wonder. I probably could write at least 5 more posts on that outing alone.

  5. Dalo 2013 says:

    Beautiful photography ~ and a slice of a culture that you put into words so well. Fantastic post.

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