February 27, 2015

India Photo Diary: Pushkar

Pushkar was easily one of my favorite places I visited in India. It is a small town in the middle of a desert. The town consist 16,000 people and most take their religion like a sport rather than a hobby.

The town of Pushkar is known for its one and only temple of Brahma. The story went like this: Brahma slew a demon trying to harass and kill his people. During the process, Brahma's weapon, a lotus flower, fell and landed in Pushkar. It created a lake filled with water and then came life. Eventually it became Pushkar city.

Brahma decided to perform a fire-sacrifice and invited all the Gods. However, his wife, Savitri, was late to the sacrifice (as our guide said, "women are always late, right?"). The sacrifice could not be performed unless Brahma was accompanied by a wife. Brahma waited and waited, and eventually got angry at Savitri for being so late that he married another woman while waiting. Her name is Gayatri. Brahma and Gayatri completed the fire-sacrifice together.

When Savitri finally arrived she found out that Brahma got married while she was absent. Savitri was angry and gave Brahma two curses: that Brahma would only have this one and only temple on earth, and that no one can worship Brahma at his one and only temple. Brahma was very sad, and asked his wife to be a little more lenient. So Savitri told Brahma that while people cannot worship Brahma at his own temple, they can worship Brahma at Pushkar lake. So 'til this day, all the worship has been and is done at the lake while the temple is only for visiting purposes.

"Has anyone tried making another Brahma temple since?" I asked our guide.
"Yes, but they all suffered from bad fortune." Our guide replied.
"Like what?"
"Death, mysterious illnesses, or losing ALL of their money." Our guide was very serious.

Because Pushkar has Brahma's only temple in the world, the city itself is very holy. And the people don't continually hassle you, they don't pressure you, they leave you alone unless you approach them. And because Pushkar has Brahma's only temple, the city itself is vegetarian. You cannot find alcohol or meat in the city. Not even eggs. No movie theaters are allowed either. Instead, the streets are filled with cute stores, delicious vegetarian eats and book stores where "50 Shades of Grey" was placed right beside Dalai Lama's "The Art of Happiness: A Handbook For Living"- it's hard not to love a place that's outlawed movie theaters but finds it perfectly acceptable to read erotica books right after religion practicing.