Well, this was so far the most interesting day of the trip, as I was expecting it to be. After we ate our breakfast (which is not something I normally do) we went and saw some terra cotta temples, which were awesome! It was amazing to see how the clay and the designs have stayed mostly intact for the last few hundred years.
We also saw the Lalbandh which was amazing. It is an artificial lake in Bishnupur, created during the reign of Vir Singh, one among the Malla Kings. The lake used to serve water to the villagers. It is said that the cries of Raghunath Singh II and his mistress Lalbai, the Muslim dancer, who were murdered and drowned in the lake, can still be heard. There were amazing views of the lake, and it was very cool in this area, since it had been warmer during the day.
Next we drove for about an hour outside of the city to Panchmura, where we went to the house of a older gentleman, who does not create many pieces know, but is known for his terra cotta work, having followed in the steps of his father and grandfather. He sat us down by some of his work, and answered all of our questions, and told us how the work was done. Then he proceeded to take us around the town to a few different areas to show us some steps of the process. He took us to another terra cotta house, for a lack of a better word, where he told us more about the process. Here we got to see the difference between newly created terra cotta sculptures and those who had been sitting for a while, and the ones that had been put into the kiln. It was very interesting, when I could understand what the guy was saying. Next he showed us the kiln, which was not being fired up because they do not work on this day of holiday, and then took us to see a family who was decorating for the occasion. The family was showing off most of their best creations to the snake god and the range was amazing. Then we went to the pandal where the bigger god statue was being held, and saw more of the same thing happening.
While on our way (and on the way back) we had to stop of the side of the road, we had tried to keep driving but there were 3 herds of sheep that had to go by, and I mean, that's a lot of sheep! I have never seen so many sheep all in one place! There were men who were herding the sheep down the street. It was so cute! There were baby sheep with their mothers, and older sheep. It was nuts!
Next we went back to the hotel and freshened up, and then ate lunch, then took a short power nap before we went over to the field where Jhapan, Jhapan festival, dedicated to the snake goddess Manasa, is observed on the last day of Srabon in the western fringe of the state with a high concentration of tribal population. Idols of Manasa, specially made for the occasion, are carried round the village. The day is also of great significance for snake charmers in the region with some kissing their snakes, was happening. We arrived around 415pm and the show didn't start until around 6pm, so we wandered around and had tea.
Jhapan...well, what do you say about this event? Today there were 3 carts of snake charmers. There were a great variety of snakes, which amazed me, small ones, big ones, light ones, dark ones. It was insane!
Then they started to antagonize the snakes with their hands (like the shape of a birds' beak, with the other 3 standing up) so they would attack, but the snakes never got close enough to bite the men. One of the men was taking multiple snakes at once and putting some of them around his neck, in his mouth, and holding one, and using his tongue to annoy the snake. I was trying hard to not freak out, as I was afraid of the men getting bit and getting ill, or worse dying. Well, finally, the first bite, and it was on the tongue. The man didn't even try to get the snake off, he just kept showing it off then got the snake off and drooled some spit into his hand so everyone could see the blood mixed with the saliva (kinda grossed me out), and at this point I asked the man behind me if the men were immunized against the venom and was told yes, so at this point I could enjoy the show more because I was not worrying. So, the other 2 carts were boring, so I barely watched what they were doing, and kept my eyes on this man. He was the most entertaining of the bunch, as he was much more adventurous than the rest (I was wondering if this was planned, but I didn't ask, so I don't really know) and then another man got bit on the tongue, and then the first man got bit on the arm. By this time it was dark, and I was told that the snakes can't see in the darkness, I have no idea if this is true or not. Then the first man was pulling up his shirt and pointing the snake towards it and telling him to bite and then doing the same to his leg, but to no avail, the snake didn't bite him again.
It was definitely an interesting experience, not one that I would necessarily travel all this way for again, but I'm glad I got to see it. It was a unique experience, if not a bit boring.