Spent another day (or set of days) on the town over the weekend – was a fairly tiring weekend as a result of all the walking and purchasing. I hesitate to use the word shopping as that connotes a little more fun than the purchasing for the project that took place on Saturday. Went on a whirlwind tour of some parts of Bangalore as we went round getting stuff for the Induction of our new participants next weekend. Hit a stationery superstore called Staples (yes, a stationery not stationary superstore) that sold everything in bulk except the stuff that we wanted. Murphy’s Law at its best but persistence helped as our wait for the managers to check their stocks did result in a nice set of notebooks for the participants.
Sunday was a personal day spent out on the town – Brigade Road and M.G (Mahatma Gandhi) Road in the heart of tourist Bangalore. Realised that I still stick out like a sore thumb and no matter how much I try to look as local as possible, I don’t think I can. Get accosted by people trying to sell me wooden snakes, city maps and other touristy souvenirs. Sigh, need a little sign telling them that I’m not a tourist or something….
Otherwise, roaming the streets was good and managed to find St Mary’s Basilica – the only church that’s been accorded basilica status in the state of Karnataka. The church proper is not huge but the grounds are. The interior of the basilica is a sight to behold – no pictures of that but just sat in there, prayed and marvelled at the vaulted ceilings (vaults covered in gold leaf) and the intricate carvings surrounding the altar. The exterior is no less impressive as the pictures show.
The garlands round the replica of the Pieta out in front of the church as well as those in the chapel to Our Lady remind me of how localisation of faiths seem to take so many different forms. Missionaries can bring the tenets of a faith to a foreign land but cannot expect people to follow these tenets as they occur in their own countries. Devotion takes many forms and in many cases, cultural bases for devotion would often creep into the ‘organised’ worship of a ‘foreign’ religion. While I’d say that this is not really syncretism, it is a pleasant mix of practices that help to strengthen religious beliefs within a particular culture. That works no?
St. Mary’s Basilica. Sadly, photography doesn’t do it justice….
(The Pieta with the garlands on the lower left corner.)
Bit more on the St. Mary’s experience here. (Scroll down to bottom).