Like the Vatican is to Catholism, so is Pushkar to Hinduism. The village was said to be a prominent Hindu pilgrimage town, where local Hindus would visit at least once in their life. But like all good religions – the sacredness is lost when it is sold out to tourist groups with big camera’s. Ultimately the tourist and traveller alike bring with them commercialism which quickly kills all the authentic enchantment which the holy place had, once upon a time, emanated. This green leaf of greed then breeds a kind of priests so corrupt and vile, that even Brahma would turns his back on this once holy city.
I came to Pushkar to pay homage to my mom on her birthday and thought that by placing a ‘holy’ flower into the lake would make for a good memorial. Instead I ended up feeding a village for 5 days and am pretty sure I fell into the ‘official government charity/donation’ trap. It was my own fault, as I had been prewarned, but it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
Thus far Pushkar has been my least favourite place in India. However I am grateful for the intense lesson I learnt while here. Lesson: India will chew up and spit you out, if you let it. Unfortunately travelers in Pushkar are seen as a walking ATMs by the locals – the glory sent by god to save the less fortunate of this ‘holy’ city. At times in life you need to be firm and strong in what you believe and how far you are willing to be pushed. Unfortunately poverty is a very real problem in India. A problem where you need to turn a blind eye in order not to be swarmed by the hundreds of needy people.
Under different circumstances I might have enjoyed the town more, and I do realise that the loss of my mom would probably have tainted any town I visited on her birthday, but I was only too happy to see the back of that town.
May your experience of Pushkar be different to mine!