To celebrate my participation in 46 summers and winters, I found myself in front of the Lakshmana Temple, Khajuraho, India (also known as the Erotic Temple).
It was hard to imagine that the temple had been buried in the jungle until being uncovered by an army officer during the British Raj. Our tour guide led us around the finest of the 22 temples on the site. It had been constructed around twelve hundred years ago, but it wasn’t until we got up close that the full proportions of the achievement could be appreciated.
The stone was seductively and masterfully rendered, depicting voluptuous and supple ideals of the human form. However, we were informed that the scenes presented cautionary tales designed to deter folk from mistaking pleasure for happiness.
Carved around the rim of the plinth upon which the temple stood were representations of the big vices – wrath, envy, pride, covetousness, gluttony, sloth, and lechery – with everyone doing everything to each other! Sitting on top of this bed of debauchery the guide explained how the temple’s layered architecture told a cosmic tale of flowering creation, fruitfulness and the ascension of form, rhythmically repeating up to the tip of the structure. At this point, I was feeling cosmic!
When we returned to our village digs we had a home cooked chicken curry, a birthday cake, some impromptu bhangra dancing and I got to light up some fireworks.
I tried to think of each firework as a metaphor for the creation of a universe, but it just reminded me of Bonfire Night. Still, debauchery, cosmicness, curry, cake, Bhangra, beer and Bonfire Night all in one day – top birthday!