We headed back to the Jain Hillside Temple where a certain family had been carrying Shiva up the side of the mountain, and lighting it at the top for untold years. That night they would allow others in on the celebration for the first time. Our host explained that first they were going to light candles and put them around the pond, as is tradition, and so I helped. The candles were made of castor oil and a wick. “Castor oil was specifically chosen because it burns well,” one of the men explained. But our attempts to light the small candles were ridiculed by the wind, who blew them out mercilessly. We waited around for a while to figure out what was going on with the ceremony. “They are not going to open it to the public after all,” was the conclusion from someone who appeared to be in charge. “If they do, the government can come over and take it away from the family as a site, so they are not willing to risk that.” I had been looking forward to this particular ritual but part of me felt grateful to not have to make that climb again.
Our host’s servant’s children came over for dinner and to celebrate Karthigai. They had a great time setting off firecrackers in the street and we had lots of fun with them!