Kids dressed up for Navratri, the Nine Nights festival. On our ride from Rameshwaram to Tiruchendur, the rains were coming strong. We could see these beautiful, dark clouds looming behind us. On the open coastal roads, the sky is all around you. There's little need for a weather update, all you have to do is look up. So we chased ahead of the rains and we rode. And successfully, I might add.
As we started to approach smaller towns, Matt was focusing hard on the road and trying not to pay attention to his throbbing arm from the stings he'd gotten in the morning. I was looking around, as always. It's one of the joys of riding pillion. I started to see every once and a while, a glimpse of a painted yellow face on a motorcycle, a kid standing around with blue makeup and a trident. I saw little boys with crown and small staffs, their faces sprinkled with glitter. Then they'd be gone. I'd shout, "Matt, did you see that?!" The response would come, "What?!" or more grumpily, "I don't care."
We passed through a nearby city. As we traveled the outskirts, there they were. The tail of a monkey disappearing around a corner. A mother holding the hand of a child with a little staff, all in glitter. Many women and younger boys carrying shopping bags through the streets. Then we passed a few older men, bare-chested with yellow makeup and staffs. I asked Matt to pull over and ran up to one man, "What festival?!" To which he muttered some reply, smiled, and stomped off, refusing my request to photograph him. Oh well.
It wasn't until later that we realized we were deep into Navratri. It was then that we caught a glimpse of Durga on the back of a motorcycle, her red dress flowing behind and her eight paper mache arms sticking out. As we approached closer we noticed that Durga was a middle-aged gentleman with very long, black dreads and red face paint. He was hunched over with a scowl on his face, being transported - where, we didn't know! - by a young boy.
People all around us were going about their day in costume. Some collected water in full makeup, others hung out to drink chai. Others got rides on the back of motorcycles.
It was like a treasure hunt, catching glimpses of other-worldly beings. That night we visited the temple in Tiruchendur, a beautiful one by the ocean. People were very friendly and helped us with etiquette - no shirt (for Matt), no carrying your shoes inside. We walked on through, admiring the shrines with strings of lights. We gave offerings of ghee candles and paid for a little puja. While it was all in Tamil, we were happy to partake.
Today we had the opportunity to take a few photos of the children. There were a handful out in black face paint or monkey outfits. And all touting little metal cans around their necks to collect coins. We hope you enjoy these little ones as much as we did. Oh, and of course Durga.