Somnath – a Day full of Surprise

19. February 2019


When we woke up, we had no idea what this day would bring us. When we fell into bed in the evening, we were full of unexpected experiences. Yet we were on a trip with a fixed tour plan. How could this happen?


The tour plan included 2 days for the Baneshwar Festival. I imagined it to be so big and colourful and diverse that you would surely need 2 days to see everything. The guide said that wasn’t the case and that 1 day would be enough – the 2nd day, which would also be the last day of the festival. Fear of missing out! Should we go along with his suggestion? Or would we be annoyed at the end of the Baneshwar day because it would have been nicer to spend 2 days there?


We decided in favour of the guide’s suggestion, who would take us to a temple first. We forgot what else was on his plan afterwards, as everything turned out differently than expected. And much better! So we drove to the Somnath Temple. It is a replica of the original Somnath temple in Gujarat, which was often destroyed during conquests. This one was not.


Somnath Temple


It was quite well attended with many people. A priest crushed something and made a paste out of it. The woman for whom it was for, was wearing very interesting toe jewellery – and that’s how we came into contact.


people in the temple


making paste




A large group of people were obviously celebrating a major event. It was a hair ceremony. The oldest boy gets all his hair shorn at a certain age on an astrologically predicted favourable day. We were also told the whole story. The couple had been suffering from childlessness for 18 years. What a misfortune! They prayed here, asked for help there – and they didn’t say exactly what worked, but it did: girl twins! And the miracle continued: another girl. And the miracle didn’t stop: twins again – this time a boy. After the first birth, the family donated a large sum to the temple out of gratitude.


The hair ceremony is only celebrated for the first-born boy. And now the time had come. Obviously unimpressed, the boy stoically endured everything.


Before the hair shaving ceremony – mum in yellow, the middle sister next to her and the twin sister at the front on the edge


shaving hair


boy without hair


The boy didn’t look happy – but he was supposed to get all sorts of presents. His twin sister, on the other hand, got nothing. And we were invited to the lunchtime feast. But it was still early and we were also approached by 2 other men. They are teachers in a village school and drive past the temple once a week before the start of lessons. They would be delighted if we visited their school! Who could refuse? And so we followed them into the school first.




It’s a public school, which looked pretty good to us. Lots of teachers present, some obviously very well educated. A good midday meal was prepared. Very nice atmosphere. And they also have a star student who was immediately presented to us. The children are almost all tribal children (predominantly Ahari). Some attend school very regularly, others do not. We got to see them afterwards. 250 children go to the school and have 12 teachers who teach them up to the 10th grade. There is no school bus, so some children have to travel long distances to school in the sparsely populated neighbourhood.


preparing midday meal


Star student


Then we experienced a short sandstorm and some girls sang us a song.




singing girls


Accompanied by the star student and a teacher, we visited 2 neighbouring farmsteads. A large family lived in the first one. School-age children were playing around. A man was making ropes from discarded clothes. There was interesting jewellery to see here too.


rope maker


bejewellered woman baking corn chapati




The star student’s family lived next door. They were a rather small family with a few goats.




goat pen


We left the nice people and made our way to the Haircut Ceremony family’s lunch. They were overjoyed and didn’t hesitate to share their happiness. The whole village was invited and given a good meal.


meal tent


It didn’t look that great, but it tasted excellent. The bread fried in oil was particularly delicious: bafla. Here you can find information about Dal Bafla.


Dal Bafla and a Laddu


cutting Bafla-loafs


deep-frying Bafla


The whole school was invited, too.




A lat sitting together with the ladies




and then we left the nice people. We thanked ourselves for having followed the guide’s suggestion. And to him for willingly following the opportunities we had been given. When else do you get such a good insight into Indian life?