A couple weeks ago was both Kamal’s birthday (he is the head of household at the homestay) and a Vedic holiday. Since his family is of the Brahmin caste (that consists of priests and scholars), a fire ceremony was conducted right in the courtyard area of the home here.
The men sat around a circle, drawn with powdered pigments sprinkled on the ground to create a mandala. Incense was lit, and offerings were set out in a very calculated manner. There was a mantra of chanting repeating in the background, while some of the men read from sacred texts, chanting other, longer, more complicated sutras. The fire was lit, chanting continued, and offerings were made to the fire. Offerings included fruits, grains, ghee, milk, rupees… This process continued for five or six hours… with a break for lunch, and then things continued until late in the day.
I can’t relate much of the symbolism behind it all, but Kamal wanted photos and said that I could share them, so here is a photo documentary of the ceremony.