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Archive for India

Kerala Boats – Travel Through The Intracoastal Waterways By Boat

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar titled "Kerala Waterway Workers" (c)2017

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar titled “Kerala Waterway Workers” (c)2017

Kerala boats are unique to the Malabar Coast and dot the intracoastal waterways that lie parallel to the Andaman sea. These boats are a significant part of the local economy as they bring important commercially grown produce such as rice, coconuts, bananas and spices to the coast for distribution. These boats are capable of carrying the equivalent of 3 trucks.

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar titled "Kerala Waterway Workers" (c)2017

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar titled “Kerala Waterway Workers” (c)2017

These Kerala boats are called vallams in the Malayalam language, native to Kerala. Vallams are canoes made from local wood called ‘Anjali’ or jack-wood and deeply oiled with a black resin from the kernel of cashews, a locally grown produce. The black silhouette of the canoe on the water is a signature of the waterways. Racing canoes are much longer and can hold up to a hundred oarsmen. These often have more prominent prows with carvings and paint. But it is the common Kerala boat that I loved seeing on the still waters being pulled along by poles and paddles.


Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar, Kerala Boat

Oil painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar, Kerala Boat.

These two oil paintings on canvas of Kerala Boats measure 36″ x 18″. The solitary boat moored alongside the river is typical of the boats used to move people and cargo. The oil painting with the two workers transporting wooden planks was captured after sunset on the waterway to Alleppey. We were traveling north on a Government Ferry from Quilon (Kollam) after spending considerable time on Lighthouse Beach in Trivandrum.

Kettuvallam (Converted rice barge for Kerala Tourism); Kerala Boat, Houseboat; Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar photography; copyright 2002

Kettuvallam – Converted rice barge moored alongside a rice paddy on the waterway to Alleppey, Kerala India. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.


Kettuvallams are the large houseboats covered in intricate bamboo and palm leaves. Everything is tied together with coir or rope made from coconut fibers. From what I recall, there is not a single nail or screw holding these canoe planks together…just the coir. These larger Kerala boats are in the 60-70′ length with a 15′ beam. The houseboats are converted barges and designed for the tourist industry. The pace is slow and leisurely, which is ideal for anyone birdwatching, photographing the local riverscape or wishing to just take in the journey and relax all day long and night.

Kerala Waterways are hot, humid and immensely beautiful under the blazing Indian sun. It is easy to spot kingfishers, sea eagles, water snakes and water rats. Fish jump and birds skim the surface seeking insects.

Along the shore people wash dishes, shower or bathe. Bamboo outhouses line the river. The waters are brackish. Salt water from the sea doesn’t penetrate the intracoastal waters due to a natural and artificially supported breakwater. The lakes, lagoons and rivers are fed by mountain streams inland.

At night, just after sunset, women in a stunning array of jewel tones sarees walk single file along the river. The rich color against the palm frond backdrop is perfectly reflected in the silvery water is simply beautiful to behold.

Kerala boats; women in sarees along the Kerala waterways India. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar

Kerala boats; women in sarees along the Kerala waterways India. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Converted rice barge for Kerala Tourism. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Kerala boat: Converted rice barge for Kerala Tourism. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Scenic Kerala Waterways at sun down. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Scenic Kerala Waterways at sun down. Photography by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (c)2002.

Traditional Hindu Foods and Our Beloved Kitchen Terrorist

Traditional Hindu Foods, oil painter Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar, India, Art

Oil Painting by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar of Aji Nirmala Kelkar

Post Munja (Thread) Ceremony in Pune, India, Anand’s maternal grandmother (aji) was sitting at the table that was laid out with a feast of traditional Hindu foods. She had waited for the ceremonies to be over so she could see us in our fancy dress and watch us eat the classic Brahmin food that had been specially prepared for the feast over the last three days. Before we sat down to eat, she insisted that Anand’s mother and my “Indian foster mother” who were already exhausted from their early morning efforts, put rangoli in a colorful and decorative design around our plates that we were going to eat from.

Aji got the nickname of “Kitchen Terrorist” from me after we realized that she had driven all the hired help to quitting, and her own children crazy with demands from the kitchen, the pantry, appetizers and meal requests that were out of season and out of the question. In her heyday she had been the most awesome cook according to her family and friends. After she broke her hip and had some other health issues that prevented her from standing up, she became a bedridden dictator much to the sorrow of everyone near and dear to her.

It took me under three minutes to quickly taste my tiny portions, which Anand’s mother thoughtfully placed on my plate, knowing full well that I wouldn’t like or want to eat any of it. My problem with the food in India is difficult for me to explain. I don’t like heavily sweetened foods, especially fruit; I have sensory aversions to the smell and taste of curry leaf and heavy saffron flavors; additionally I do not like lentils, broccoli, cauliflower, okra or eggplant; and at the time I was doing my best not to eat carbs like rice, flour, potatoes, refined grains or other root vegetables. Take a wild guess what traditional Brahmin food is loaded with? Sugars and starches. Aji was at a loss to understand me and why I would not partake in her traditional Hindu foods.

Traditional Hindu foods are used on holy days. They abstain from strong herbs and spices, such as garlic, onions and chilies as they are too stimulating when one is to be in a meditative or prayerful state.

This oil painting is on canvas and measures 12″ x 16″.

Hindu Fire Ceremony As Still Life Painting

Hindu Fire Ceremony, oil painter Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar, Art, India

Hindu Fire Ceremony by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar (signed with her Hindu name “Amrita”)

A Hindu Fire Ceremony is something to behold. The natural ingredients are dried cow patties, mango sticks, ghee (clarified butter), dried grasses and string made from coir, marigolds, rice, copper bowls and basic clay bricks present a lovely collection of textures and harmonious colors.

This oil painting is on cotton canvas and measures 20″x24″.

Personal Story About This Hindu Fire Ceremony

Half way through my husband Anand’s Munja’s Hindu fire ceremony, the fire that was built using dried cow-patties, a few twigs and fueled heavily by ghee started smoking to high heavens. The recreation hall doors were all open, and the wind was changing directions causing the priests to lean left then right in a weak attempt to avoid the smoke as they chanted their lines. I ran around the room closing windows and doors trying to channel the smoke between the gents, but each time the wind outwitted me.

Anand, patient as ever and acting respectful, was completely smoked out as the flames worked to steady themselves in the clocking breeze.

I turned to his Uncle Kumar and said, “I know Anand, as a scientist, must be hating every minute of this and he is probably staying put to make this part of the ceremony end fast. Can’t we do something about the smoke?”

Kumar-mama just laughed and said, “Don’t you know Annie, it is a holy fire making holy smoke that will purify Anand.” Right. All I understood was that my sweetheart had to inhale the ash and smoke from burning cow dung, which motivated me to make one more attempt to channel the draft. When I successfully directed the smoke between the Pandits and away from Anand, sure enough it was all over in another two minutes.

Hindu fire ceremonies are pleasant enough. Between the chanting of the priests to the gods and the simple offerings it is a reflective time. If you ever have a chance to sit through one take it!




The Pink City of Jaipur: Visiting the Summer, Winter and Spring Palaces of the Maharajahs

Rajasthan is India’s largest state, and Jaipur is its capital.  It is called the Pink City because its buildings are constructed of pink stucco and forts of red sandstone.  The 9 block grid was laid out in 1727 on Hindu principles, with unusually broad avenues for its time.

Now, 2.5 million people live here.

We first entered the city at night, and predictably, the first place we were taken was shopping in the bazaar.  Raj, our driver, maintains this is the best shopping in India.  We enjoyed watching him buy cheap screened colorful twin bedspreads for his 3 children.  Each shop is set back from a well-kept arcade sheltering a raised sidewalk, and families sat on narrow padded benches buying saris (it’s wedding season here).  We were shown silk scarves and bought 2.

This morning, our guide Anapurna brought us up the thorny, sere hills to the Amber Fort, perched high on a mountain 11 km outside of Jaipur.

It was originally built by the Kachhwaha Rajputs, who were rewarded for their allegiance to Mughal court in defending them in skirmishes. Using booty from wars, they began construction in 1592.  It is a perfect defensible site, made stronger by Great Wall of China style defense works on surrounding hills.

After waiting in line 40 min. we got on board an elephant sidesaddle in a sort of padded metal cage and wound our way up the hill.  The elephants are painted with pink and green designs and lurch back and forth enough to make you feel you are going to fall off or crash into the next elephant.  Gail touched his bristly stubble and was surprised at the texture.  They eat sugar cane and love naan bread with butter for snacks!

Feeling highly relieved to get off, we visited the red sandstone Maharajah’s Hall of Public Audience, with white marble columns hidden in the middle.  The Summer, Winter and Spring Palaces surround a garden irrigated by rain water collected in cisterns.  Their capacity was sufficient for 10,000 people for 3 years.  The water was cleaned by a system of filters, screens and bowls made of clay under the palace.  The Hall of Victory’s mirrored surfaces are being restored.

In the Hall of Pleasure, a slanted board fed water to a channel that cooled the room. It was then channeled to water the plants in the sunken garden.  In the Summer Palace, reed curtains were wet down, and the wind passing through them cooled the terraces.

The technologies used 350 years ago have been abandoned.  But we marveled at the use of shiny white plaster to brighten dark corridors, the advanced sunken (Jacuzzi) marble bathing octagon high above Lake Maota, the clever working of marble to permit ladies to sit above the courtyard and see but not been seen…this place was, and is, an engineering triumph.  It is also beautiful, with its Persian influenced flower paintings on gates, and its intricate mosaics and mirrors.

After a delicious lunch of local desert specialties, we spent several hours…shopping, what else!

We were shown wood-block printing.  Designs were carved into teak and a long piece of cotton cloth was laid out on a table.  The worker chose the background color, dipped the wood block in that color and went down the row.  In the wood block there was a little symbol to let him know where to place the next design so it would line up correctly.

The vegetable dyes became set after 2 days of sun exposure, transforming from dark to brilliant.  Green color comes from mango leaves and spinach, black from iron oxide, blue from indigo, etc.

Although the Maharajahs no longer rule, they are rich and live in palaces in the city.  The complex contains a museum with royal costumes and polo outfits (the game was invented here).  Near the inner courtyard are the Peacock, Lotus, Green and Rose gates symbolizing the four seasons.  It’s overlooked by the towering yellow Chandral Mahal where the family lives.  Salmon-colored arcaded pavilions with glass chandeliers, silver thrones and giant water vessels, fine paintings all speak of lives of unimaginable excess.

The coolest site was the Observatory, built by Jai Singh in 1728.

It’s like a giant outdoor playground for astronomers.  The largest is the 27m (90 ft.) high sundial with a staircase to the top.  Its arm is set at 27 degrees n. latitude.  The shadow cast moves up to 12 ft. per hour.  There are 12 zodiac instruments and others calculate declination (angular distance of heavenly bodies from celestial equator), and altitude and azimuth of celestial bodies, determination of equinoxes and location of the Pole Star.

We photographed the one-room deep Palace of the Winds, a pink sandstone building of 5 ethereal stories, which allowed royal ladies to watch the city life below.

When the British were rulers here, the photos show a clean uncrowded city.  However, Jaipur suffers from the same squalor we have seen everywhere in India.  Efforts to restore the red historical facades won’t mean anything unless everyone pitches in to clean up the garbage in front of their own shops.

Claudia and Gail

Fatipur Sikri Architecture – The Fort and Abandoned Moghul Palace

Fatehpur Sikri architecture, oil painting, oil painter Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar, Moghul palace Fatehpur Sikri in Agra, India.

Moghul Palace “Fatipur Sikri” – Agra, India

We had left the Taj Mahal behind us as we traveled by government bus back towards Delhi, but not before we visited this Moghul palace that had been deserted, it is believed, for a lack of water. This is where the city of Fatipur Sikri architecture is showcased in the fort and abandoned Moghul Palace.

It was late in the day, perhaps 4PM and the sun was straining through the white smog to keep the scene well lit. A few national tourists roamed the area and children gave furtive glances as they took stock of who was present in the great open square. Later we would find ourselves surrounded by half a dozen kids all trying to pickpocket us.

Without warning or invitation, a self-appointed guide materialize out of nowhere who started telling us facts about the place. We reluctantly let this entrepreneurial fellow tag along, but on this day, money was extremely tight and he would be looking for a tip thereby leaving us with nothing once we got off the bus in the middle of the night in Delhi.

We had arrived at the Taj Mahal only to discover to our horror that the policy had changed regarding fees and currency. We would be admitted if we paid $15US each. Nationals, by comparison, paid the equivalent of thirty-five cents US. Anand attempted to buy one national ticket for him and a US one for me, but they had him figured out. He was an “NRI” –non-resident Indian and he would have to pay full price. We rarely carried cash on us in any great amount when out and about as we didn’t like to take risks, but whenever we knew we could face a major change in plans where we might have to stay in a hotel, for instance, we brought about $40US cash with us. This entrance fee at the Taj Mahal ruined our insurance plan.

This is a photograph of an archway inside Fatehpur Sikri palace in Agra, India. Fatipur Sikri Architecture

Fatipur Sikri Architecture “Archway”

Not only did the recent ticket hike take us by surprise, we saw many Europeans and Asians who did not have US dollars on them get turned away. We were shocked by this and had extreme sympathy for these tourists who had traveled by train –some for two days only to be met by this dual pricing system. It seems that a recently appointed politician made an abrupt decision shortly before our visit and changed the policy. There was no system in place for accommodating other world currencies, no credit card sales or ATM nearby to help those who didn’t carry dollars. (Westerners couldn’t pay in Rupees either, which made no sense at all.)

It was painful to watch tourists get upset and try to reason with the clerks at the entrance to the park. However, it was more painful to open our wallet since our fees represented one and a half times our daily backpacking budget in India. When you travel around the world for almost half a dozen months, most people have a daily budget that is in keeping with your lifestyle but you must make cost comparisons at the local level. Feeling gouged and taken advantage of for being Westerners added to our frustration because it wasn’t the first or last time it would happen to us in India.

I grumbled the whole way into the park, but the moment I saw Taj Mahal, all grumbling ceased and I got completely lost in its stunning –no, breathtaking beauty.

This is a photograph of one facade of Fatehpur Sikri from inside the plaza. Fatipur Sikri Architecture

Fatehpur Sikri Architecture – From inside the plaza.

Thinking that anything after the Taj Mahal would be anti-climatic, I wasn’t expecting anything from the rest of the tour, but I was wrong. Something about this magnificent red sandstone palace captured me in a way I wasn’t expecting. The minarets, domes, archways, door details, carvings, filigree and play of light and dark on the rose colored stone left me speechless. It appeared to me as one big, gigantic stone that had been masterfully carved to reveal a palace. Of course, that is not how it was created, but that was the impression left upon me. Fatipur Sikri architecture is stunning.

This painting is from a photograph I took. I saw humor in it; Three women looking away from something incredibly beautiful. Whatever were they looking at? If you had been there, you would have known they were looking at an equally beautiful facade of arches and doors, columns, domes and more architectural detail than one’s brain can register in the moment.

In my painting, on a small 9″ x 12″ canvas, the detail was frustrating to paint and took many hours with a size zero and double zero brush. A painting on a large scale canvas would have been ideal and, if I am inspired to try my hand at this scene again, I will work on a 4′ x 5′ canvas.

Exploring The Hues of Fatipur Sikri Architecture

The sandstone itself creates some strange optical illusions because it changes color here and there. The inconsistency of color warps the perspective. For example, imagine what happens when the normal rule of “darks recede and lights advance” is reversed or mixed up. I fought my inclination to correct some of this because it made the floor look pitched downwards and not on level with flooring elsewhere. (Should I even point out these inconsistencies? –or is it a  disservice to myself?)
In painting this facade on a small canvas with a “fine” texture, I learned that it wasn’t fine enough. The natural warp and weave in the canvas could create distortions in the building’s lines and it added to my constant, never ending frustration as a realist painter. A wooden surface, such as a mahogany panel that had been prepped for ultra-fine realistic work, would have been best.

This is a photograph of a domed roofline in Fatehpur Sikri. Fatipur Sikri Architecture

Fatehpur Sikri Roofline

Red sandstone of Fatipur Sikri’s architecture, ranging in hue from deep bloody purples to light ivory peach, created a luscious palette to work from. The antiquity of the buildings has stood the test of time burdened by hot desert sun, winds carrying abrasive sand, pollution and dirt cover every architectural detail, etchings from rare rains, highly acidic bird droppings, and normal wear and tear from humans and animals…yet these harsh conditions have rendered these palace buildings full of character. Nothing is perfect or regular which might be why I chose to paint it: it was a very forgiving building for a realist painter to capture on canvas.  [Note: Make no mistake, this painting was extremely challenging in its own right and I would never wish the task on anyone. <LOL> Definitely pick something easier to paint…that’s all I have to say.]

Visitors in my home press their noses up against this small canvas as they examine it. Four hundred and forty-four years later, the Moghul palace of Fatehpur Sikri does not disappoint. In my humble opinion, it holds up well against the Taj Mahal as a treasure in Moghul architecture and history. It should not be missed and I think, for best viewing and as an artist, visit it at a time of day when the sun strikes the building facades at an angle. and you will be guaranteed a feast for your eyes.

Agra: Visions of the Taj Mahal

This is a photo of the Taj Mahal located in Agra, India.

Taj Mahal

Arriving in Agra after a long journey by car, we realized that we could see the Taj Mahal from our room.  Even better was the view from the rooftop terrace.  The weather had cleared of haze, and we sat in a swing and enjoyed its beauty from afar.  We had always dreamed of seeing this beautiful building, and now we were here!

The Taj itself was closed on Friday, so we toured the imposing Red Fort, a World Heritage site.  Its fortress walls extend for more than 1.5 miles, and were built in the 16th and 17th centuries.  Our guide was the impish Gurudehal, a PhD in History of Northern India.  He showed us the beautiful gardens, mosques, and palaces overlooking the river.  Across the river was a complete view of the Taj Mahal.  The Red Fort is largely intact, constructed of red sandstone, with delicate inlays of jasper and cornelian stones into the crystalline marble that the region is famous for.

Every tour ends in a shopping expedition, as the Indians believe that no opportunity to sell and receive commissions should go unanswered.  We were taken to a marble cutting and inlay shop, and, we admit, when the room was darkened, the sight of intricate gemstone inlays shining through the white marble took our breath away.

The next morning, we stormed the breakfast room to pound down our first meal of the day in time to be ready to greet the Taj Mahal at sunrise.  Men and women waited in separate (long) lines, and there was elaborate searching of everyone’s bags.  No food, drink, or gum were allowed to pass.

The outer protective walls of the Taj are actually red sandstone, but once one crosses through the gate, a perfect view of the symmetrical mausoleum shimmers into view.  The tomb was built in the mid 1600’s by the Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife Mumtaz Mahal.  Nearly 22,000 workmen were required to build it, and it took 20 years.  He is also buried with her.  At the outer edges of the raised platform containing the Taj Mahal stand 4 tall white minarets.  Carved naturalistic screens of solid slabs of whole marble frame the tomb area itself, and the building has many details of geometric patterns.  Seen in the early morning light, the side of the structure sparkles and also glows.  There is a mosque flanking it on one side, and a “guest house” on the other.  The reflecting pools, unfortunately, had been drained for whitewashing.  But the “paradise” gardens were beautiful too.

We checked out of our hotel after the morning visit, and proceeded to the mysterious “Royal Ghost City”, built by Emperor Akbar as a new capital to replace his palaces in Agra, which were considered too dangerous.    It is a vast complex of red sandstone in perfect condition after 500 years.  Palaces of the Winds, schools for the emperor’s girls, houses for his Christian wife, his Hindu wife, pleasure palaces, administrative buildings, all were absolutely perfectly placed and very beautifully decorated with carvings and inlays.

It is said that after 12 years the complex was abandoned, perhaps due to lack of a water supply (it’s located on the top of a big hill and required a ride in a motorized “tuk-tuk” to reach it.

In this photo, an Indian man sits outside Fatehpur Sikri's red sandstone wall.

Fatehpur Sikri Outer Wall

We said goodbye at Fatehpur Sikri to “Del” our guide and drove on through countryside fertile and green.  The farmers are growing potatoes, mustard, wheat, millet and vegetables for everyday use.  Monkeys begged for bananas and peanuts by the side of the road, and the usual panoply of water buffalo, camels, dogs, sheep, goats, cows, pigs and other animals intruded regularly into the road.  We finally reached Jaipur, only to be brought to the main shopping bazaar.  Our driver wanted his commission, too.  But he actually wanted to buy some bedspreads for his 3 kids, and we enjoyed this well-lit, clean and organized opportunity to buy silk scarves, shop for men’s pajamas, and Indian fennel candies.

Tomorrow we’ll tour Jaipur.  But today was a special day – the day we saw the Taj Mahal.

Claudia and Gail

Oil Painting of Munnar Tea Plantation, Kerela, India: A Place For Total Peace and Quiet In India

in Food, India, Tea      tags: , ,
Oil Painting of Munnar Tea Plantation, Kerela by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar

Munnar Tea Plantation, Kerela, India

Almost a hundred thousand hectares of tea grows in the hills of Munnar in the state of Kerela, India. It is somewhat remote and completely restful. The perfect place for a morning cup of tea while reading the Indian Times newspaper.

In a world where a billion people reside and make noise, this place offers peace and tranquility matched only by the Himalayas.

 The silence in the morning was met with the occasional sound of a bird call, a woman singing as she picked tea leaves or the rare taxi on the road bringing a guest to the few five star resorts in the area. At night it is quiet and a far distant light could be seen across the valley of perhaps a car miles away. This is one of the few places I have walked by starlight in search of a beer wishing I had a flashlight; and if it weren’t for the promise of a cold beer at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have been out walking at all.

Scottish immigrants cultivated this land from the mid 19th century, developing the tea plantations and establishing the trade out of Munnar. Tata Corp now owns the vast majority of the land and several American franchised resorts share this particular view of the valley which is absolutely stunning when the morning mist lifts off the lake and recedes into the surrounding hillside.

Beyond the mountains are the ghats in Tamil Nadu which have animal sancuaries and other agricultural resources.

Inside this valley, cardamom is grown for export along with black pepper. A small local village behind the hills surrounding the lake share the work of the various processes required for growing and curing the spice before it is ready to use.

I have a penchant for painting the least likely scenes from a country. I like things that are universal in appeal. To my mind’s eye, this could be any one of the British Isles, for example. What do you think? Does it remind you of another place? Would you have known it was tea growing on those hills?

Hindu Offering to the Gods – Food for Thought

Food As A Hindu Offering to the Gods

Hindu Offering Oil Painting, Still Life by Anne Marie Peterson-Kolatkar

Hindu Offering at Munja Ceremony

This still life oil painting was inspired by travel to India.

My husband, Anand’s Hindu Munja (Thread) Ceremony was in Pune, India in January of 2002. Foods common to the people become Hindu offerings for the Gods. Coconuts atop a disk of jaggery (raw, unprocessed sugar), oranges, apples, nuts,basmati rice and mangoe leaves for the God Ganesh to eat –his favorite, I’m told by the Brahmin priest.

Precious metals like copper and silver, natural fibers like cotton and silks and other elements like water and fire complete the ceremony items.

There were several photographs that I considered before choosing this one and the fire ceremony. In particular, this Hindu offering is rich in color, texture and has a vitality to it that some still life paintings lack. I was very curious to paint rice. Up close, the brush strokes decompose but at a distance they are quite discernable as rice.

This piece is commemorative for the Thread Ceremony experience and, while just a small painting measuring 9″ x 12″, it holds up well under scrutiny. I take quite a bit of pleasure from others who take a moment to enjoy the textures and colors assembled so casually by the priest.

Hindu offerings, while assembled from common items, and to the best of my knowledge, are not carefully arranged unless the priest is an artist. Rather, there is a studied carelessness to them that I find appealing. Items are stacked or grouped together on a hand-towel or other small piece of natural fiber fabric. The goal of the priest is to appease the gods not create a still life.

On one occasion, I couldn’t help myself and arranged the objects holding the Hindu offering items a bit more carefully to get better photos. The priests were amused, nor did they seem to mind the American girl.