To welcome the God at one's home

One of these days Vashisht and Shiva — the gods of Vashisht village, Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh — were invited to visit one of the village families at their home. An ordinary family invited the gods for puja as a thank you for making their wish come true (nobody said what that was). In the evening they arranged a feast for the whole village, to which everyone was invited. So I went too.


In the morning the sacred procession started from the temple along the narrow streets of the village. The trumpets sounded so stirring that I couldn't resist staying at home and went to see which god came to the village.


The daughter-in-law of the family I'm staying with came running to me — please, give me 20 rupees, two 10 rupee notes, she said, I'm just from the hot spring and I don't have anything on me. So she rushed to make offering to the god along with other women.


No need to queue to get a blessing.


Two men in white clothes are the gurs of the gods. A gur or chela is an oracle, shaman, he conveys the voice of the god when falling into a trance during a special ceremony.


The gods travel by a sort of palanquin. The idols themselves do not leave the temple and the gods are represented by golden masks on the palanquin. Usually there are masks of all the gods who have temples in the village. In this case there are Vashisht and Shiva first of all. Then there are thaans — protectors of the village. They have altars devoted to them at the outskirts of the village.


Happy women after seeing the gods off are going back home. They will join the gods again at the evening feast. Today is the day off from the kitchen for them as there is no need to cook.


The place was specially decorated for the feast in the family's orchards. The big roundish part is for thakurs. And smaller area behind is for koli, the lowest cast.


That is how the thakur people were having their food.


And that is how the lowest cast koli were fed. All the food was prepared by the same cooks — from upper cast.


One could take the food away for the family members who couldn't make it to the feast site. There was rice and about 5 side dishes. Everything was very tasty. As my friend said the food of the gods is always tasty.


The field kitchen. The thakurs eat nearby.


The gods were having a rest near the host family house. When the feast was over another puja was held and the gods set on their way back to the temple.


While people were enjoying the feast the gods' band was bored at the fire. Thank you, guys, I turned out to be at the right spot at the right time.

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