The Hindu Wedding Ceremony which I witnessed in Rishikesh also involved the officials of the ceremony walking around the two people in a circle 7 times...each time symbolizing something different. Also, the couple sits in front of a flame and throws herbs and spices in, after going up to the "alter" we'll call it to place Hawaiian-looking leis around one another's necks. I assure you that it all made sense when it was being explained, but unfortunately I cannot remember all of the details as to what each part of the ceremony meant.
The other day, while walking along the Ghats, Chris and I walked past a bunch of birds all caged up in quite tiny cages being hung from a wooden stick, carried by a gentleman of anywhere from 17 to 21 years of age. Chris, being an animal trainer was really disturbed and could tell by the way this small owl was panting that it was on its last legs. So, he opened the cage and let it free! ...however the young man was charging a price of 300 Rupees to "give good karma" by releasing the bird. Chris insisted on not paying, so the gentleman followed us, yelling obscenities and yelling to others to tell what had happened, while Chris was telling him that there is not price for giving the bird freedom because it should be free in the first place. The gentleman became quite hysterical, picking up a rock at one point, and doing nothing with it, and demanding the money. Finally a deal was reached in that Chris paid 100 rupees and the boy left us alone. It was a strange cultural clash, because I agreed with Chris that the birds should be free and that there should not be a price for their liberation. I could also see how this guy could be in some serious trouble for coming back to his master at the market with no birds and no money...in the end it is the boy's job, regardless of if the thought of animal cruelty has even crossed his mind. It is likely it has not, as I have seen a horse's feet tied together, along with Monkeys chained around the neck to a strange-looking guy who is charging money for photos. I almost took a photo, but he wanted 20 rupees. Looking back on it I feel bad and would not even want one now. To me this is animal cruelty, and it is hard to watch, much harder for Chris I am sure. I appreciate the cleanliness and many other things more and more in the US, but even more its animal protection laws now.
It is super common that I am followed by Indians, trying to sell me something. The normal routine consists of an offer for something strange like a haircut, then a massage, and then drugs...? Many of these people are quite harmless, but creepy nonetheless. They will not leave you alone easily, so Chris and I have invented some rather unorthodox and interesting ways to deal with the situation:
1) The Bindi Money Routine - A Bindi is that dot that Hindi women wear on their forehead symbolizing that they are married, and for males I believe it is a sign of good luck. Chris and or I make a weird motion with our hands and then tap the unlucky culprit on the forehead and then begin requesting 10 rupees of them. Some play along with the routine, and others are weirded out that you are being stranger than them and leave you alone.
2) Being Super Weird - Not making sense, and speaking quickly and or in slang terms with them.
3) The Silent Treatment - Hoping that not making a peep will either convince them we do not speak English or give them the hint that we are not interested.
4) Gentle Pushing - A tactic that I have used on numerous occasions to get these pests out of my face
5) Speak Another Language - Spanish is highly NOT understood among Indians, I should use some Portuguese tonight or tomorrow!
6) The Party Boy - SUPER excited for this one! Chris and I have been saving this for the right time and will use it on the next super annoying person to enter and not immediately leave our atmosphere! We will surround the felon from either side and party boy (bump our stomachs into him while waving our hands up and down and yelling some strange gibberish) him until he decides he has had enough.
So the big question, "WHY Do this to these people?" If we did not have fun with them, we would go INSANE. The Indian people can be very pesky and will not leave you alone easily. For girls (especially alone and in crowded areas) it is worse. They get touched, groped, etc.
On another note, these people are INCREDIBLY sly and clever. They will go as far as to bring you to a guest house that is a knock off of a popular one listed in a book such as the Lonely Planet for a commission. Result? We do not pay. Rickshaw drivers will attempt to charge at times, 3-30 times the price of the taxi ride. Answer? We set the price beforehand. Actually, I thought I was getting a good bargain back in Rishikesh for the prices we were paying and then was informed I was STILL overpaying by a lot! Due to all of the tricks I have encountered, I am VERY careful in what I believe, as a guest house owner could easily try to get an extra 100 rupees out of you, claiming that he only has a triple room rather than a double. I am a pretty non-confrontational person, but had always had gripes on which situations to confront. Being put into India has been the best situation for me, because I am constantly forced to be on my toes, and am being OVERLY confrontational, which will help me to find my balance when interacting in my culture and others outside of India :)