Before we start, to get things in context, the night before this day I was up late taking part in a Diwali ceremony so was pretty quiet and was not ready for what was about to come anyways here we go!

‘Stuart, are you awake.. Stuart wake up.’ Looking at my watch it’s 7:15 AM, not even 8 hours sleep and I am awoken feeling less than happy, however after the third call I feel someone must want to get in the room or something so I decide to get dressed and head outside. Upon my appearance I am told that it is the day to visit the temple and to get ready, not knowing how far I would have to walk or what was really going on I decided on grabbing a jumper and hoping for the best. I guessed food wasn’t going to be happening and before long I was on the road with my adopted mother to temple, we headed out of the village past the volleyball court and towards the local shop, we stopped when we got there and had a cup of tea and I had a boiled egg and a few prawn crackers before carrying on through the village and off a side track towards the temple.

A self shot I took the night before this day. Very tired and dead.

We walked through many fields and carried on the undulating ground, the sound of drums and horns was in the distance and I started to get the impression that we had a long way to go, we carried on and eventually we rejoined a road and entered a village. I looked at my watch and we had descended 1,000 feet and the path was kind of levelling out. I saw my first party of horns and drums and people singing and dancing and thought that a lot of people must be heading to this temple. We had a rest under a tree and during the walk we had been joined by more of the mothers of the village which was nice. Everyone in the village is really kind towards me and I am happy that I had the opportunity to do the donation when the Okhle Village Trust group were out and make the speech that I was very happy with everyone’s kindness.

Views of the landscape walked across to get to temple.

After a while of resting we set off again and had an old man for company asking me lots of questions and someone I was quite keen to lose. Luckily I think he got the message and left before long. We were nearing the temple and there were quite a few buses scattered about making me think that the bus companies knew how to cash in on the big days, interestingly I saw another Westerner coming the other way and I had seen her before, however we had never openly acknowledged each other and this was not going to start now, I guess she was doing fieldwork like me.

Many people were at the temple!

Finally the first glimpses of the temple came into view and made me realise just how many people were there, it must have been a couple of thousand and as we approached the temple I worked out that it was a Hindu temple which made me a little worried; one because I am a beef eater and secondly because I had a leather wallet and camera case on me, however this turned out not to be a problem and we went up the stairs to the temple at the top there were people selling beads and food and an army presence was clear, we found a place to rest and before long we could see other members of the village and we got up to join them. I went off with the boys and we started out walk around the temple in a clockwise direction. The walk round was full of groups dancing and playing instruments but was good fun. We made it round and then started to walk up to the temple past a couple of the army men which always makes me feel nervious. One of the boys gave me a coin so that I could donate it when I made a prayer which was nice. We walked directly around the temple before descending and going to sit below a tree.

Whilst relaxing under the tree it was interesting to see how many of the men I recognised from the week with the group and was nice to be greeted by so many people and to know that other villages had also done the stupidly long journey. I took a few pictures and videos and looked around, there were thousands of people and I was baking under the sun. I ate a few oranges and then it was time to move on and we were going to leave, we started to walk to the exit and I saw all of the mothers so wanted to grab an umbrella to stop me baking so much. It ended up that the boys were taking longer than thought at the temple so I started to walk with the girls which led to lots of giggling on their part. We walked down the hill a little to a shop and all of the girls bought crisps and were having a munch. I had two boiled eggs and some prawn crackers and the girls were laughing at the way I eat which was quite amusing. We waited here for quite a while for the boys to catch up and when they did we set off again on the long journey back, the girls still had the giggles and we had another break a bit of the way down and it seemed we would have countless breaks before getting back.

View of temple

After about two more breaks and some noodles and more oranges we arrived at a market town where everyone was buying different things. Lots of the boys bought cigarettes and fanta and the girls bought more crisps and fanta. I left the girls at this point and joined the boys in the back of one of the shops where we were crammed in and a couple of them started to smoke, it seemed that this town had an ideal location for everyone coming back from the temple and it was very busy. The boys I was with were being typical boys and whenever a group of girls went past they stood to attention to check them out, firstly all the girls from Raipali went past and everyone was looking at one girl in particular and then it was time for the Okhle girls to go past and by this point we were back at the front of the shop on the road and we looked across to see some of the girls and they all recognised me from the camping a couple of days previously and I cast my eye over the bunch and one girl stood out in particular and no surprises it Okhle girl and she looked very pretty…

Shot from under the tree

I just noticed this is already up to a ton of words so I will split it in half here and will share the adventures of the walk back and whether we made it back before night and some other stuff that happened on the day, lets just say it wasn’t an early night and I saw a few interesting things about the culture… and would I have the opportunity to speak to Okhle girl who knows! Find out tomorrow.