Dodital Trekking Pleasures
February 29, 2012 – 4:14 am | No Comment
India is a land of legendary places which provide great interest in the myriad travel locales here. Dodital in the Himalayan region is one such lovely and fascinating region, which gives great adventure pleasures. This lake has a lot of mythological background to it and is a very popular trek in this part of the world. This is where Lord Ganesha is believed to have been born. This is also the same  [...]

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Mardi Gras – Hope of Light for New Orleans

Posted on April 1, 2010 | Festivals10 Comments

The best time to spend in enjoying Mardi Gras in News Orleans is not in French Quarters but outside it, in the Neighborhoods where it is local.

Standing at an intersection in New Orleans, I felt that I was in amidst the mirrors of fun house. In front of was a blue-skinned Vishnu, which is a Hindu God, pointing me the right direction by his eel like arms and behind was standing a rooster crow, when I turned around I noticed his beak to be of gold and cockscomb of blood-red in color. Above against the blue sky, one cannot overlook the people suspended on the balconies of wrought-iron fluttering their arms like sparrows. Then there was a dragon ride with a masked women, I guess so, on it. I wonder is this Mardi Gras? It seems like a complete different place to be.

The parade, Bourbon Street Mardi Gras, was organized by the St. Anne society and is no boozy parade. The parade is unofficially held here and is totally distinct bohemian territory, Bywaters.

Bourbon Street Mardi Gras
A week before the Fat Tuesday, I came to Mississippi, to take a glance on the faces without masks of carnival. I was also curious to see how the celebration regenerates and recovers the region hit by a devastating hurricane. So I started my expedition from the very remote neighborhood what many visitors miss to see the real magic of Mardi Gras.

So what makes this carnival so special? January and February are the months of celebrating Mardi Gras which is held before the lent. It Takes place on Tuesday which is known as fat Tuesday. It’s the only place and carnival where you can witness transformation of the poor to rich, black turning white and men turn into women. This turning into ‘other’ is what makes the Mardi Gras festival unique.

As I was touring the Louisiana State Museum’s second floor, I was amazed to see the craziness of the carnival that is now part of the city. The Museum is dedicated to colorful event of Mardi Gras carnival. The museum displays sequined mannequins of the parade. In 1857, the Mystic Krewe of Comus led the parade of the Mardi Gras in the city. Since then, the parade was an elitist affair, however, in 1909 because of the Zulu Krewe, traditional African-American fraternal society, started to parade throwing coconuts instead of coins and rode glamorous, huge floats. Since then, Mardi Gras became mainstream.

Mardi Gras celebrations
The float kept in the museum was excellent, but to see the real thing I needed to traverse the Mississippi.

In order to know about the floats, I went to the float makers at Algiers. I took a ferry to this historic district, which is known to build parade floats. Blaine Kern, aka “Mr. Mardi Gras” is the owner of the 77,000 square feet float factory. He is a charming guy and sweet spoken. He sells floats to roughly over 40 parades in the city. He has being in the business of making floats since 1947 and believes to bring happiness to million of people.

He shared his experience with me about the after-effect of hurricane. He recalls of borrowing tractors to pull the floats to nearby schools and police to protect it form the hurricane. After the storm water receded, he encouraged neighbors and everyone to start the celebration of the Mardi Gras. Celebration of Mardi Gras was really a hope of light to recover from the destruction of hurricane, he concluded.

Though there are few days remaining for the fat Tuesday, bucolic St. Charles Avenue was crowed by the big block party of Krewe of Thoth in the neighborhood of uptown. The families gathered to watch in from their balconies and doorsteps, kids to get a clear view of the party made themselves comfortable on the ladders. And the Krewes members throwing strings of beads, cups, and coins as good luck.

After roaming here and there for few days and seeing small parades before the main event, I was getting more curious to participate in Mardi Gras Parade. Finally, the day came and city awake in the light of new beginning and hope. I made my way towards the Bywaters to the Clouet street where Victorian house is situated. From there the St. Anne Society’s parade begins. It was a fantastic view of hundreds of people in different and unusual costumes gathered to start the parade. The crowed was enthusiast, surrounded by the snap photos of unicorns, lobster, and bumblebees, I even saw dragon and a king, drummers, and dancers were getting warmed up. The entire events of things, colors, crowd, and props, made my head spin. Everything looked like a land of Oz. The parade started and there was no sign, or whistle sound, people just started to walk. We passed the Bywaters cottages, Marigny’s porches, dancing and merrymaking, pausing at every interval of time. It was fun to see people gathering alongside the road side waving their hands, shouting, and cheering for the parade.

St. Anne Societys parade
At every turn and transverse of the lanes, I used to be confused, but followed the parade as it was making its way into the city. After an hour later, I realized we have reached the French Quarter. Abruptly, a friend pulled my hand and took me to the balcony of the float. Just few blocks away from Bourbon Street, I watched the unrestrained merrymaking and my realized that quirky neighborhood revels—is already behind me. At that moment, I knew what made Mardi Gras so special.

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