After a long train ride from Udaipur to Delhi, and then another long bus from Delhi to Amritsar we arrived at the spiritual centre of the Sikh faith.
We checked into a hotel near the city’s main attraction – the Golden Temple. By then, the sun was setting so we decided to take a walk to the temple. It was a lot busier than I experienced during my last visit in 2006 – and we lined up alongside many Sikh families to put our shoes into storage, wash our feet before entering, and for Travis to collect a scarf for his head.
The grandeur and magnificence of the Golden Temple is breathtaking as one first enters the area. It is set on one side of a huge man-made lake of water. Whilst witnessing the temple’s dazzling gold exterior is amazing, seeing the many, many Sikhs make their pilgrimage to this sacred place quite a moving experience. Many were walking around the temple, as we were, others sat quietly and respectfully on the edge of the holy lake. The place was so alight with colourful turbans, and sarees.
After circling the Golden Temple, we went into the Langar canteen. The generous Sikh community offer free food for anybody who enters the Langar – and anybody can have a meal as often as they wish. The meal is simple – everybody entering receives a traditional thali steel plate and a steel bowl for water. Upon entering the canteen, people sit in rows cross legged on the floor. The volunteers who serve the food pass through each row, placing dahl, water, bread on each person’s plate.
Sonya recommended we see this as she had seen similar last time she was Udaipur. The tickets were fairly inexpensive at one-hundred rupees plus a little extra for use of camera during the performance.
The show features the different music and dance styles found in the state of Rajasthan.
The show starts with an elderly man playing a ravanahatha (a bowed string instrument local to the Rajasthan region) and a veiled women singing.
Next three girls performed the fire dance from the Bikaner region of Rajasthan. The girls would move hypnotically and trance like to the music all while balancing kerosene torches on their heads.
Following on was the impressive Tera Tali dance, in this performance a women with thirteen Manjiras (small cymbals) all tied around her legs and arms sits on the ground. The women then strike these cymbals with other manjiras on string, it was a very visual performance.
Veiled women dances followed next for a traditional Rajasthani dance known as Ghoomar. The women gracefully danced and twirled to the traditional folk music.
Next was a comical puppet show, featuring a dancing princess, a rider and horse and a magician who could separate his head all in time to the puppeteer’s mouth whistle.
The final act was the infamous balancing pot lady. The Bhavai Dance originated from the balancing skills of the women who carried pots of water on their heads for long distances. In this dance the woman balanced a staggering ten pots on her head (though the last three were all pre-glued together).