ON THE WAY TO GANGA TALAO
Maha Shivaratree, celebrated on the 24th of February this year, was preceded by a week full of fervour.
Pilgrims across the country walked to Grand Bassin with their Kanwars (a wooden structure with elaborate decorations) to celebrate the night of Lord Shiva. Grand-Bassin, the sacred lake is also known as Ganga Talao.
The traditional kanwar is usually white with small mirrors climbing over the structure. However, this year, it looked like the Kanwars were more elaborate than ever.
Some were impressively and artistically designed with colourful ornaments. By the roadside, tents were erected to welcome pilgrims with a vegetarian meal, cakes and tea.
The traffic slowed down tremendously during that week but it is part of the local folklore. Going to Grand-Bassin during this festival, requires more than a good dose of patience but the scene by the lake is just spectacular: ladies draped in colourful sarees saying their prayers, men dressed in white, filling up bottles with sacred water, the deafening speakers diffusing continuous mantras, the air is filled with rose scent from the burning of incense sticks...
Special prayers are said in all the temples and shrines around the lake and visitors will enjoy seeing monkeys from the surrounding forests, coming for their share of bananas. Temples are open on other days of the year as well. The place is serene with a lush green landscape and bears one of the highest Lord Shiva statue.
No public bus goes to Grand-Bassin except during the Maha Shivaratree week but the place can be visited at any time of the day all year round. Grand-Bassin is a volcanic crater lake and is surrounded by temples with Hindu deities. It acts as the local Ganges and the water is believed to be sacred.
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