At Varkala in Kerala, India, the waves roll in from the Arabian Sea, bringing sweet, fresh air from distant lands. No land lies between this beach and the east coast of Africa.
Indian families come to Varkala’s Papanasam beach on the weekends and tentatively tip toe into the water’s edge: youths play ball games on the sand, as they do all over the world.
We retreat to the shade of a nearby restaurant and consider the menu. Perhaps a Kingfisher beer or a large pot of tea, or, depending on their licence, a beer served in a large teapot!
On a nominated day in the month of Karkidakam (mid July to August), thousands of people gather at the beach to make ritual offerings to the departed. These offerings are placed on banana leaves and carried out to sea by the waves. It is believed that the souls of dead ancestors attain ‘moksha’ or eternal release when ‘Vavu Bali’ offerings are made.
A psychedelic Ganesha enjoys a day at the beach, pumping out Indian sound waves at a deafening volume, and providing that festive Indian touch.
Beautiful girls enjoy the waves, but rarely enter the sea.
Waves is the topic set by Ailsa this week at Where’s My Backpack. Ailsa goes for a traditional New Year’s Day swim in the ice-cold waters of the Irish Sea. I’m staying on the edge, here with these Indian girls, and may take up wearing a silk sari too.