Religion in Rajasthan
by Idoia Gómez Olsen
Chittorgarh was a wonderful surprise. It's not like there is much to the town itself, but there's an amazing fort, 11 km wide, full of Jain temples, Hindu temples, castles, etc. It was very nice to walk along the fort and meet all the local people from Chittorgarh, who were having a leisurable Sunday up at the fort, praying, feeding the monkeys and taking photos of us, weird Caucasian people! This time WE were the tourist attraction of the place, as opposed to the other way around. A nice change, I must admit. We joked with them and asked them for rupies for every picture and they were laughing like children.
Nand took us to the mosque of Dagarh. This is a very important pilgrimage for Muslims and it was like being inside a city. Inside its walls, there was bustling activity, hundreds of beggars (some with parts of their bodies missing), children running all over the place, hundreds of people praying facing Mecca, shops and, above all, there was a priest asking for donations at every corner we turned.
We rapidly realised we had to get the hell out of there. It was too crazy, so we managed to get rid of the two guides who were already following us and made it for the exit. When we finally managed, we were exhausted! We are really happy to have lived this experience, but we wouldn't go in there again for anything in the world. How much more peaceful are the Jain and Hindu temples with their High Priest whispering you have good karma and that reigning silence only disturbed by the singing of prayers...
There we met two sadhus (religious Babas that travel around India on pilgrimage from one sacred city to the other), their names were Giri Baba and Puri Baba and they were soooo friendly. We sat with them on the floor enjoying their improvised fireplace. They invited us for a chai and were rolling joints non-stop. Don't ask me how they get the money for pot!!! This is India and everything seems possible. We had dinner on a rooftop with some other ten Spanish people that Mario and Sofia knew and they were all very nice.
After dinner, Sofia and Mario took us along with them to go and visit a friend of them. His name was Om and he has no legs, but when you ask him if he has had a nice day, he puts on a huge honest smile on his face and says that it was perfect. He lives in a guesthouse where there's apparently no owner and it's moer like a house. Suddenly the place was crowded with loads of friends and they played Indian music from the 60s (and told us that it was much nicer that today's 'chumba chumba') and chatted and laughed and smiled and they were all so amazingly friendly and nice.