As the Yoga lessons in the afternoon were ‘women only’, filming Elles during her yogaclass was out of the question. But after three consequetive days we managed to win the heart of the lovely instructor and could film all the bending moves! After the lessons we were informed that there was a very good bookshop across the street. As we wanted some background information on Yoga and Meditation, we crossed the road and entered the building what we thought was the bookshop. There we were asked to take of our shoes.Funny for a bookshop we thought at first but hey… this is India and nothing can surprise us anymore.
Then we heard singing in the room next door. A man dressed as a monk asked us to have a look. When we entered the room we knew one thing for sure. This wasn’t a bookshop! The long and small room was filled with colourfully dressed singing men and woman. The men on one side and the women on the other side. Elles was guided to the other side of the room and i sat down next to some old men. A microphone went round and everybody was doing their best to sing as loud as they could. We wondered if this was some sort of sect meeting and were a bit nervous of what was coming.
As i had the videocamera with me i asked if i could film.
This was no problem and i felt like a national geographics reporter intruding in these peoples lives. Then the singing stopped and the main entrance door was closed. Now what..? Elles was on the other side of the room and did not know they had closed the door. The crowd stood up and started to move to another room. First the ladies, the men following quietly. Maybe it was a sect and maybe we were going to see some weird rituals? Elles was out of sight in the little room and i was waiting in the hall way. I peaked into the room and saw a bed. Oh my god.. i hope there is not a deadguy in the there.
Then the crowd started singing again. A few minutes later the crows started moving and elles walked past by saying she would meet me outside. Then it was my turn to walk into the room and then i figured it out.We were in the house of a very spiritual men, swami sahandra i believe his name is, and these people were mourning. It was a commemoration of the day he had died. The crowd were touching his belonging and were even kissing his old wheelchair. I decided to copy the acts of the crowd and touched some belonging as well but skipped kissing the wheelchair. Outside i met Elles.
Elles: i had no idea what to do. I was asked to walk into the room as one the first. I was afraid to see a dead men but saw only his bed with a huge picture of Swami on it. Then the room filled up and I was pushed in a corner.All the ladies were looking at me and i felt like an intruder. Especially when they started singing and i did not know any of the words. I stayed in the corner so i did not have to go through the ritual of touching the belonging.
Outside the crowd gathered near the ganges river and flowers were thrown in the water. Then a fire ceremony started and everybody sang. It was already dark and the scene was dramatic and spiritual. Then the whole crowed touched the fire and were handed some sweets.
Michel: it was amazing to stumble on such a ritual and being able to film most of it. Definetely one of those unique things you will never forget.
As the ceremony ended we quietly left the building…..