Tonight I left my flat expecting to walk to the corner and catch an auto to go to a restaurant. Instead when I got to the main road, I found a small flood of humanity, mostly dressed in variations of peach colored clothing walking down Infantry road. It seemed clear that SOMETHING was going on, but as a newcomer and foreigner I had no idea what it was.
I know that there are various festivals going on but as far as I knew none of them involved dressing up in peach colored clothes. I asked the local handicrafts store guy what was going on and after offering to show me some great deals, and asking me to come in “for a cup of tea” he explained it was some Christian festival.
I find the timing somewhat suspicious. I was raised in a Christian culture and I know of no big Christian feast day around now, but I do know of three or four Hindu festivals going on, but it was just another of those little mysteries. Rather than compete with the dozens of people walking down my street for an auto, we decided just to walk the mile or so to the restaurant.
On the way, we were surrounded by more celebrants, some dressed in peach, some not, all a river of humanity, just walking along at 8pm on a weekday. After six months here, it felt kind of comforting. We were walking along with our neighbors, here in the city. Some of them stopped for the local chaat wallah, others joined us in crossing the street in a safe and comforting group. Some jumped on to the overstuffed bus that barely slowed to let people on and off.
It was yet another fascinating and serendipitous experience for us, something that I’m sure people who live here take for granted, but that we would never see anywhere else.
[Edited to add]
Apparently this festival was a flag raising at the Basilica in Shivajinagar in honor of Mother Mary’s upcoming (Sep 8) birthday.