It’s virtually impossible to visit Varanasi and not be swept up in the special spirit of the place. But did Intrepid Express reader Roger Allnutt let his hair down a little too much when he joined in a local celebration?…
“It was early morning on the River Ganges and the faithful were gathered on the river bank for the last day of a major Hindu festival. Small boats cruised along the water’s edge, while the passengers scattered flower petals or lighted candles that floated downstream and created a magical effect. On shore large bonfires signalled where bodies were being cremated, a time-honoured ritual.
As I wandered through the crowd I noticed a large number of men had, or were having, their heads and sometimes also their beards shaved off, another part of the ritual of the festival. I had always considered having my head shaved but had never had the courage to do so. Why not now, when I would be only one of many?
Signalling to one of the many barbers squatting on the steps of the ghat, I indicated that I wanted to have my head shaved. Locals gathered round to watch this stranger joining in the ritual. Within minutes and a few deft strokes of the cutthroat razor my head was bare, the newly exposed skin cool in the early morning air. I got quite a shock when I saw myself in a mirror that the barber held up for me.
What had I done? It was certainly my moment of going with the flow in India!”
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* photo by Lavina Tien – Intrepid Photography Competition