July 4th…another amazing day in India!
By Judith Torres
July 4, 2005

After morning yoga and breakfast we headed for downtown Madurai and a tour of the Meenakshi temple given by Dr. Venkataraman. He presented us with a lively and informative tour and a most interesting version of the story of Shiva and Meenakshi.

This temple is a special place where Meenakshi and Shiva were said to have been married. Many couples who are planning to be married come to this temple to celebrate their marriage rituals. We saw many couples sitting in the halls of the temple for close family members to view prior to marriage. This is a traditional custom in the process leading up to a wedding.

During lunch today hand tailored and made-to-order clothing were brought to our restaurant for a few people who had only been fitted only an hour before the delivery!
Today was the first day we saw rain. It was just a few brief sprinkles. The land is very dry and in need of rain.

This day also brought the long awaited cooking class. The making of chapatis was interesting. Our cooks were able to roll out the flour and water dough in perfect circles.

The bread was lightly browned in a bit of oil and then lifted and placed directly on the burner where it quickly puffed up like a balloon and was removed from the flame to settle and cool.

We watched them make delicious lime rice, sauces and chutneys. Dinner was excellent.

In the evening we watched a Bharatanatyam performance of classical Indian dancing by Ms. Bala Nanda Kumar and her students. The dance was accompanied by classical Indian instruments, singing and a violin.

July 4th was topped off with the best do-it-yourself fireworks provided by our Cesci hosts. The grand finale lit the sky up with so many fireworks that it was almost like watching one our very own municipal fireworks shows.

Judi
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