Upon locating out that Pushkar is only an hour away from Jaipur, I instantly booked a taxi to do a day trip. I haven’t met any individual who’s been but I heard that it is one thing worth checking out.
It was currently my third week traveling in India so I was currently extremely comfy. India has a undesirable press when it comes to ladies travelers but spending adequate time in the nation produced me realise Indian regions like Rajasthan are extremely protected for vacationers.
But this is not a story about unsafety for female travelers. Like me, you are most likely not going to see a lot of articles relating to the Pushkar scam and I pray truly really hard that you will see this ahead of going to Pushkar.
The flower scam in Pushkar
Pushkar Lake is one particular of the holiest web-sites in India, primarily due to the fact the most essential Brahma temple is right here. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma was as soon as cursed that he will not be worshipped by the men and women. To date, this is the sole temple in the globe exactly where Lord Brahma is worshipped. A lot of pilgrims come to Pushkar each year in the belief that praying and bathing in the lake has terrific healing and ‘purifying’ powers.
I have often been fascinated by Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. And Pushkar seemed to be a excellent location to start off in acquiring to know them. As opposed to quite a few other religions, Hinduism has been the most exciting for me. I do not truly recognize it as a religion but a way of life. I’ve been to a lot of religion-driven nations but India does not really feel like something is imposed on you.
Pushkar was extremely quiet. I’d anticipated it to be super touristic but I guess we arrived quite early. No-husband and I had been currently traveling India for 3 weeks. We had been currently seeing the Rajasthan area also deep we wanted one thing unique. The taxi couldn’t go into the narrow streets so we began walking into the city.
“Welcome to Pushkar,” a stranger shook our hands. I did not count on a extremely warm welcome from somebody who’s not a tour guide and/or some individual of energy. He was actually a man walking down the street just saying hi.
The conversation began with the usual exactly where-are-you-from-what-do-you-do type of factor. Just after the mini-chat, we had been instructed to go to the lake ahead of carrying out something else in the city.
We hadn’t had breakfast so our initial strategy was to consume. There had been quite a few cafes in Pushkar that appeared to be serving excellent coffee (at least that is what the exterior screams.) We had been also extremely amused about the restaurants with menus in Hebrew. I knew that India was a location exactly where Israelis go following their mandatory military service but I didn’t realise it was that large. So large that restaurants had their menus translated in Hebrew.
I threw the flower in the trash when a random guy (not the very same individual who gave me the flower) scooped it and place it back in my palms.
“Go to the lake and throw the flower there. All your wishes will come correct.”
WTF was my initial reaction. I told no-husband we should really grab meals very first ahead of going to the lake. In each alley we passed by, each freaking individual is pointing to the lake. There was even one particular man who asked if we currently had a flower. As if the flower is a gate pass to your day trip in Pushkar.
I do not don’t forget why I submitted to this when I was dying to have a cup of coffee but we did go to the lake very first. Pushkar Lake is so stunning I instantly took my camera out to snap some shots. I was standing at the major of the plight of stairs overlooking the lake. The minute I was about to click the shutter, a Brahmin grabbed my hand and stated: “please proceed to the lake for the prayer.”
Brahmin is a class in Hinduism specializing as priests, teachers, and protectors of sacred finding out across generations. They are the highest rank in India’s caste method. All the vacationers about to go to the lake had been welcomed by a priest in a lengthy white clergy clothes.
I felt a tiny shameful about taking a image very first ahead of participating in this flower ritual. When I began traveling 10 years ago, I produced a pact to often be respectful of the culture I am attempting to be aspect of and to often participate even if I do not have any thought about it. For instance, I joined a goat supplying in Jordan for the duration of Eid regardless of the terror of how graphic the ‘killing’ was. There was a lot of blood but I endured it. Traveling will make you realize that culture is subjective and that it is a bit private. I under no circumstances anticipated one more nation to have the very same methods and suggests as mine nor did I count on them to think in what I think in. The beauty of the cultures of the globe is its diversity and complexity. There exactly where quite a few cultures that I didn’t agree to (largely in my time in the Middle East) but I guarantee myself that I will often respect it no matter exactly where I go to.
I was separated from no-husband. Each and every visitor was supposed to be with one particular (1) priest. We had been all directed to sit at the bottom of the stairs exactly where we can attain for the lake. There had been about six (six) of us seated 50 meters away from every other. Half of this group are Indians. I saw no-husband currently began the ritual.
“Do you nevertheless have parents?” I swear this had been his very first words.
“Yes.” I answered.
“Okay, so let us pray for your mama and papa. Repeat following me.”
I sat on a praying position. The flower was nevertheless in my palm. He murmured a bunch of words which I repeated obediently. Everybody was so quiet and I felt truly delighted that I was ultimately experiencing one thing as holy as this. Guys, if it hasn’t sunk in however, Pushkar is truly a large deal in Hinduism.
“Now, let’s pray for your brothers and sisters. How quite a few do you have?”
“4.” I responded quietly.
There had been chants. Some languages I didn’t realize. Just after all these whispering and repeating, he asked me to wash my hands in the lake. I dipped my correct hand to the lake. I do not want to judge a ‘holy’ city but seriously, the water looked truly dirty. The Indians about me had been swimming in it (for a additional potent salvation I guess) but I did not join the celebration.
The priest then told me a quick story about how the city shares every little thing: meals, funds, ‘blessings’ and so forth. Every little thing is communal. From his tone, I knew he was going someplace that includes funds.
“Now you need to have to spend 1,000 rupees ($14 USD) for every loved ones member we prayed for. Otherwise, the Lords will not grant your wishes.”
What the freaking feck. I believed I was going delirious for a second. Is this priest truly asking me for funds??? I imply I heard about how church men and women are all about funds but this is the very first time I am experiencing it. This priest is essentially asking me to spend for salvation! I have two parents and four siblings: does this imply I have to spend six,000 rupees ($84 USD) for a prayer I didn’t even ask for?
Let’s have a rapid recap: I went down the taxi. I entered the city of Pushkar. A man welcomed me and place a flower in my hand. I attempted to get rid of the flower but one more man place it back. I was coerced by a lot of men and women to go to the lake very first ahead of I do something else. A priest escorts me to the lake to pray. I do not don’t forget volunteering for any of these.
Holy sh&$t! I got scammed and this is what it feels like.
There is no way I am paying six,000 rupees. I do not don’t forget saying something to the priest but I don’t forget leaving. I went back to the major of the stairs exactly where I left my footwear. On the way up, I turned to no-husband and gave him the “we have to leave” signal. He wasn’t searching at me. I saw five priests swarming at him. He was prepared to take his wallet. I was searching at him with my large anime eyes saying, “If you can study my thoughts now, do not give these idiots funds!”
Of course, he didn’t get the mental telepathy message. He gave them funds. Up to this day, he stated he understood it but was trapped with five priests about him and couldn’t escape. I under no circumstances asked how a lot he gave them and I under no circumstances want to know.
We walked as far from the lake as achievable. I didn’t even have a possibility to take images. I wanted to leave Pushkar asap. I didn’t care if I saw practically nothing. This Pushkar scam was adequate cause to leave.
I kept shouting at no-husband. I had this anger burning inside. I wanted to shout “f#ck you all” but I couldn’t. Why did you give them funds was the only factor I could say in public. No-husband swears I stated it on loop for more than an hour.
Just after a when, I realized it is not even about the funds — it is about becoming scammed. How in the globe did I travel 10 years on the road devoid of experiencing any scams and now this occurred?! I felt robbed and taken benefit of most particularly when it was so simple to prevent that circumstance. I was so angry due to the fact I did not see it coming. I am nevertheless one particular of these men and women who feel that religion is one thing you can not say no to. I felt like the instruction of going to the lake was one thing I should really comply with diligently. I under no circumstances believed that as a tourist, I had a option.
But most of all, it broke my heart that no one in the regional neighborhood warned us. It is as if the complete city of Pushkar had been united on a mission to direct vacationers to go to the lake. We passed retailers, mini kiosks, restaurants on the way to the lake but no one particular stated something. Everybody saw the flower on my hand, also. It was a lengthy way to the lake from the entrance of the city to be warned. I felt truly betrayed.
If I did not get to the lake, I truly feel I would have had a unique expertise. Up to this day, I nevertheless cringe at the believed of becoming scammed but I am not regretful of this expertise due to the fact I can now warn a lot of men and women about the extremely aggressive Pushkar scam.
I want I have a excellent story to inform about Pushkar but correct now, I can’t discover the excellent in it. I am not saying the very same factor is going to come about to you but there’s a 100% possibility that it will if you did not have prior study like me. Under are some excellent references about the Pushkar scam which I only study only following the incident: