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In India with Ritu Sangal



    Hi Everyone,

    In case you did not see the Grains of Glass Facebook page, I am in India visiting with Ritu Sangal. I have been here nearly 21/2 weeks - starting out in Delhi to attend the wedding of her daughter  Smitri - It was the most wonderful wedding. I spent a full day with the women family members getting Mehndi on our hands and feet, followed by a dinner at Ritu's house - the friends of the bride took me shopping for Saris - one shop for the Sari selection, one shop to have the blouse made, one shop to buy the underskirt, one shop for the matching bangles and one shop for the fashion jewelry. The groom, Vidant, arrived on a white horse with a band and all of his friends dancing all the way to the reception hall.

    The bride, Smitri, and a GOG member, arrived a bit later under a flowered canopy wearing a beautiful embroidered peach sari -

    While in Delhi, I then toured the Ghandi Museum, where he spent his last 144 days before he was assassinated and walked his last footsteps to his death - the same at the Indira Ghandi museum which is her home.  The National Museum had an incredible collection of  ancient imperial jewelry of which I will post when I can download them to the cloud - It seems there was no cloud in India for me to keep my photos.  The rest of the days were spent touring the abandoned British Parliament building, government buildings, the India Gate, and everything else the tour books suggested. 

    After the wedding on flew on to Allahabad, the birthplace of Ritu and her family and was well taken care of by Ruchi, her sister - I went behind the scenes in the museum to watch an artist replicate ancient sculptures out of casts - study incredible miniature paintings from the 12th - 15th century -  visited Ruchi's two Institutes of Polytech where the students learn the art of embroidery, clothing design, patterns, computer sciences, and artistic design.  I also  took and evening boat ride on the Jamuna River where it meets the Ganga River - the meeting of the rivers is called a "SANGA" -  what an experience! The highways and villages are filled with buffalo, bulls, goats and many dogs -which surprisingly you will see along the highway sleeping casually, or walking the streets. 

    Next I flew on to Varanasi - the Holiest city of India - and stayed at a small hotel looking out on the Ganga River -The view was breathtaking - there are many steps and back alleys that lead down to the river and the strand is filled with hundreds of  holy people, pilgrims from other parts of India, brides and grooms,  tourists,  boat people, cremation sites, temples, dogs, buffalo, and vendors - I took an evening boat tour on the Ganga and ended parked with a multitude of other boats to watch a religious ceremony of fire on the steps -  my morning and evening meals where shared with monkeys who  like to congregate and visit for food- we were given bamboo sticks to wave them away -  but they still stole my food - because Varanasi is so old - the neighborhoods are carved into a narrow maize of 4 ft.- 5ft.  wide ancient stone walkways lined with stone buildings on both sides - it was a challenge to walk passed the stores and homes, and have a buffalo heard squeeze by, motorcycles, wagons, and dogs.  The market places are lined with vendors selling brass ware, textiles, baskets, jewelry, religious items,  vegetables and fruits - hundreds of people fill the streets, along with motorcycles, dogs, buffalo and goats. -  I visited many temples with a guide, and went to small dark shops in the textile area where workers sat weaving silk  and dying fabrics for Saris and shawls -  the work area was very small and poorly lit but yet everyone smiled and welcomed me in.

    I then drove back to Delhi - 4 hrs. away and have settled in for the next few days for the Holi Celebration which is all about celebrating Spring with powdered colors thrown everywhere and on everyone throughout India -

    Photos to follow this adventure - after that it will be teaching a Separation Enamel class at Ritu's studio and back home to the USA.

    and now you know the rest of the story....