I am living in a city with one of the best preserved old town centers in Europe. A city rife with spectacular vistas, beautiful traditions, historic churches, castles, palaces and museums. Every weekend there is a ton of stuff to do that would enrich my understanding of Austrian culture. So what did I do yesterday?
I went to a Hindu fire ceremony.
I suppose it was an Austrian experience and, in a way, it did enrich my understanding of contemporary Austrian culture, because Austria is diverse. It isn’t the Sound of Music, Mozart, or Germany’s little brother. I have barely skimmed the surface and I am astounded at the richness here.
And some of that richness is on Riesstrasse at the Zentrum Des Dienens, the Babaji Center of Graz. The cerememony was held in honor of a marriage (OK, it was ours) and was attended by about 40 people. It was cool; ritual chanting, offering of food, incense, offering gifts to the fire, sharing of prassad. Sweetly moving.
Afterwords, the party included medieval music, an Austrian yodeling song, a drum circle, Irish dancing, an Indian Buffet (with a Thai curry), Lebkuchen hearts, a Kardinalschnitte. Good Austrians attended from all over Graz and from as far as Stubing.
And everyone left the party with red, orange and yellow tikkas on their forehead. Now that’s Austrian.