Today on the way to work I saw a sight many Indians have seen many times over; it is a matter of course in this country. In a narrow, congested and unmetalled road, there is a small shrine at the bottom of a tree. There is a raised platform around the base of the tree, a tiny enclosure surrounded by a tiny gate and a deity (as yet unidentified. By me, that is) inside.
So I pass by this shrine everyday. What about today? There was a ceremony of some sort afoot. This too, like the mysterious deity that sits inside, is an enigma to me. There is a large object, apparently made completely out of flowers, being hoisted up towards an uncertain destination. It must be an offering. Or a new gate for this shrine?
The music accompanying this fascinating (if incomprehensible) ritual is as incongruous as can be. It is being played at a decibel level that the government would have banned, if the government had cared about that sort of thing. Throngs of kids and adults surround the shrine. We, who are among the throng trying to get to work, must wait it out behind the traffic jam caused by this ritual.
All over the road lie bits of plastic, paper, and assorted fragments of trash. Dogs lie undisturbed on the edges of this mélange, having already done their business for the day. A few yards ahead, there is a communal tap with a cluster of buckets, both plastic and metal, waiting to be filled before the supply runs dry. A roadside fast food joint advertises its spicy wares. Waste and victuals co-exist here like peaceful neighbors.
Meanwhile, the devotions continue. The faithful must not be disturbed or be expected to deviate from this momentous ritual. Probably they are a step closer to divine salvation?
Oh, never mind the garbage!