(1937-10-22) Navratri Festival
Details for Navratri Festival
Summary: The vacation to India continues, and Ranjali takes Audrey to the Navratri Festival.
Date: October 22, 1937
Location: India
Related: Heritage

Tonight, Ranjali has brought Audrey down into the city for one of the nights of Navratri. The nine-day festival began days ago, tonight is actually one of the last nights. It is also one of the ones Ranjali specifically wished to attend. And she spared no expense in making both herself and her love rready. She had new clothing - formal forms of the skirts and tops the two have been wearing, - brought to them, as well as massive amounts of jewelry for nearly every part of the body, and elabroate bindis to be placed on their foreheads. She explained the meanings behind evrything she knew, helped Audrey chose anything she wished, and by the time she herself was ready was so excited she felt like a child. She chose, for herself, pale blue with green and silver accents, and her hands and feet practically drip with silver, from all the bracelets and rings she is wearing. She's even wearing a veil, pinned to hang back over her hair and down nearly to the ground.

They arrive at the city as the dances are just beginning. The streets are lined with people of all ages, talking, laughing, and watching the dancersin the center of the streets as they prepare. Vendors selling various sweets and bottled drinks weave through the crowds, calling out in Hindi and other languages to advertise their wares. The whole city is here, it seems, in one loud, crowded, colorful mob.

If Ranjali is like a child, Audrey is an infant. Her eyes are like saucers, jaw agape at the exotic wonders around her. She's never seen anything so magnificent and colourful. Of course, she was just as awed at the incredible clothing Ranjali provided them. She has been favouring the vivid reds and yellows to be found here, and tonight is no different. In contrast to Ranji's silver, it's nothing but gold for this starlet, and she is swimming in it. "Ranjali, I think I might cry. This is the most amazing thing!" She clings to her lover's hand. Though she loses herself a bit, she is careful. This is Muggle territory, and she isn't sure how the Indian people will take to their relationship.

Ranjali squeezes Audrey's hand and beams at her, her eyes sparkling with happiness. "Isn't it just wonderful? I have wanted to see the Garba dances for so long. There will be a constest, later, with the best of the dancers. But this part, if you like, we can join." She draws the blonde carefully to a place where they can easily see, as music begins to play somewhere down the street from them. A singer, from the other side of them, picks up the song, and soon more musicians have joined in, and are beginning to play in time with eachother.

Audrey gives an excitedly little bounce. "We can join? Oh…I don't know. I've only just begun to learn these dances. Look at them, they're like blossoms floating on the wind. I'd be so clumsy next to them." She tugs Ranjali's hand encouragingly. "But you should go. I want to see you dancing out there."

Ranjali giggles. "No, please. Come with me. This is… my… my aunt, she always said it was a great place to learn. There are many beginners who come for this." As the music picks up, the dancers start slowly to begin. Notably, they do not all do the same dance, yet. Some spin one way, some another. Some form groups while others dance alone, and yet more join in, even some rather young girls who are helped along by any older woman who happens to be nearby. The crowds call out and cheer for friends and family members, and the music swells as yet more people pick up the song.

Audrey cannot argue with that, and the celebratory atmosphere takes her. Soon she finds herself in the street with Ranjali, trying to keep up. She's a fair dancer herself, so she can manage the basic steps. But this is still a very new style to her, so it's all about following Ranjali's lead. But even with her mistakes, she is all smiles, marveling at the beauty of hundreds of girls and women dancing together.

Ranjali brings Audrey to a group of women, who gladly accept them into their circle. And though there are certainly those in the crowds who notice and even comment on Audrey's obviously non-Indian heritage, the women in the circle simply dance. They happily demonstrate the steps for Audrey, especially the younger girls who are so proud to have recently learned them themselves. Ranjali also teaches what she can, though it becomes clear as the time goes on that she, too, needs some instruction in this dance. But she keeps going, laughing at her mistakes along with the girls, dancing and even singing along with the parts of the song that everyone seems to know (in a voice that is, at least, not horrible).

She steps out after the song has changed twice, waving down a passing seller of some sort of clear drinks resembling Coca-Cola and purchasing two from the man. "Thank you!" She exclaims, grabbing Audrey for a hug while the vendor counts her change.

Audrey feels like she's caught in a whirlwind, but a fun one! When Ranjali finally leads her out of the dance, she is a little bit relieved. It's hard keeping up with those ladies! She takes the drink, curiously staring at the label, which she obviously cannot read. "So, what's next?" She's got the spirit of the festival, and wants to experience it all.

Ranjali giggles. "Its… like lemonade, a bit. And next is… well mostly its just dancing." But she takes her lover's hand once more, and pulls her back into the watching crowds. "There are also a number of people who set up stalls, like at the bazaar. And we can visit the pandals." She opens her bottle, wincing a little as it takes more effort than she thought to twist off the cap, "Pandals are like… like temples, they are built for the festival. The ones I have seen are usually quite elaborate."

Audrey tries her own drink, testing out the flavour on her palette. But she gives a smile, "I rather like this. So, pandals? I'd love to see." More sights! More experiences! She wants it all! Really, what she wants is to kiss Ranjali right here and now. But again, there is that pang of uncertainty. Muggles don't understand this sort of thing. If it became known that Audrey Taylor was having a homosexual affair? It could ruin her career. Then there is another pang, this time of guilt over considering her career over Ranjali.

Ranjali, though, is for now missing Audrey's dilemma. Bottle open, she reaches for the singer's hand once more and pulls her down the street. "I have never seen the Durga pandals. But I have seen others. It amazes me, every time, that they can make them so swiftly. And without… ah, with normal means." She tosses a grin over her shoulder at her lover, steps around a corner, and brings them both to a small courtyard that is curently dominated by a bright blue structure. Elbaorately built, the small temple is surrounded by large, wave-like shapes and covered in designs and small mirrors, so that it catches the candlelight and glitters brightly. A small niche in the center shows the painted figure of a many-armed goddess atop a lion, surrounded by other figures and the few others who have left the dancing to come and see.

Audrey lifts her brow curiously. "With normal means? Oh! You mean without…that. Yes." Living in both worlds, the mundane and the magical are both rather normal to Audrey. But the sight of the pandal has her jaw on the floor. "I…I see what you mean. Muggles built that?" she asks in disbelief.

Ranjali nods slowly, also taken by the impressive sight. "Yes. Though I've often had my suspicions otherwise." Chuckling, she leads the way to a row of blankets laden with white flowers, and offers one of the women there payment for two large bundles of them. "We can present these as offerings, if you like. I think I would like to thank her, myself. For everything that has come of.. what happened."

Audrey is following along like she's in a dream. "That would be lovely. But…thank who? I'm sorry, maybe you told me. This is just so much to take in." She's been trying very hard to learn all she can about Indian culture, even the language. But it is all so vastly different from anything she's ever known.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I probably didn't." Ranjali shakes her head at her own forgetfulness. "The goddess Durga. This part of the festival is for her, for the story in which she defeats the evil Mahishasura. It is considered a symbol, now, of good triumphing over evil."

Audrey ponders that for a moment, then goes to offer the same payment for two more bundles of the flowers, giving the woman an awkward thanks in badly-pronounced Hindi. She gives Ranjali a proud smile as she rejoins her. "You're right. Much good has come from something bad, and we should be thankful."

Ranjali is beaming when Audrey comes back with more flowers. "Yes." She agrees, emphatic, "Yes, exactly." She offers her hand once more, leading the way to the temple and its niche. A few others are here, already kneeling in silent prayer before the raised dais, though the last of them leaves by the time the two women are close enough to follow suit. Ranjali kneels, glancing up to see if Audrey follows suit, and begins spreading her flowers at the feet of the lion the goddess rides. There are many other flowers already here, some still in their bundles and others strewn loosely as Ranjali's are, so that the lion practically swims in a sea of white petals.

As with the dance, Audrey is following Ranjali's lead in everything. So when Ranjali kneels, she kneels with her, and starts to spread out the flowers. She glances between Ranjali and the icons, both with great reverence and awe. She keeps silent, as that seems to be the thing to do.

Ranjali sits back once her flowers are spread, and looks up at the goddess with a small smile. She remains still for a very short time before glancing back at the flower-sellers. And once she has assured herself that the women's attention is occupied elsewhere, she quickly leans in closer to the singer, taking her hand and pulling her close for a swift kiss.

Audrey swoons at that brief contact, but can't help her nervous glance back to see if anyone spotted it. Seeing that they are safe, she giggles like a schoolgirl, blushing.

Giggling as well, Ranjali pulls back and stands, offering a hand to help Audrey up as well. "I shall never be done with thanking you, you know." She murmurs, "For all you have done for me. And for… " Now she's blushing, too, "For giving me something I thought I'd not even a right to wish for."

Audrey places her hand in Ranjali's and rises. "You mustn't thank me. You have given me just as much. I don't want you to put me on a pedestal, Ranji. Not you. You know me as others don't. You see past the sparkle. With you, I can be just a woman."

Ranjali shakes her head, "No pedestal. I promise." Still holding Audrey's hand, she starts heading down a more quiet street, where they can still hear the music but are not surrounded by it, and will be able to see the other pandals. "But I can still be grateful I think. I told you already, how I dreamed of you." Her blush darkens at that memory. "Though… I never would have imagined getting to be here with you."

Audrey tilts her head, giving Ranji an adoring smile. "Life rarely takes us where we expect, and sometimes it rewards us for having hope. It was your hope that brought us here. You are the one that opened my eyes. I don't think I really believed people like you existed. You're so compassionate, and so completely sweet, never expecting anything in return for it. You're…you're my goddess."

Ranjali's smile slips, as Audrey speaks, a look of shock replacing it. "Audrey… " She stops, on the street, the glow from the dancing a block away giving just enough light to see. This time, she doesn't check to be certain that they're alone. She just steps forward and kisses her love once more, bringing her free hand up to the back of Audrey's neck.

Audrey's back arches, pressing up against Ranjali and melting into that kiss. She is so easily lost in the passion that Ranjali pours into that kiss, that she loses all sense of being in public. Her hands roam down her lover's back, playing at the bare skin and pulling her close. "Ranji," is all she manages to say in the moments between their lips touching.

Ranjali moans into the kiss, Audrey's hands inspiring her depen it and steal another, then one more, her hands moving both deeper into the singer's hair and around to tug at her hips. When she is finally able to pulls herself back, she keeps her eyes closed, and her hands where they are. It takes a moment for her to calm her breathing enough to whisper, "Perhaps… we should not have come out tonight after all?"

Audrey giggles softly, blushing as she is reminded that they are outdoors. "I wouldn't have missed this for the world. But…maybe it's time to head back." She nibbles at her lip, giving Ranjali a smoldering vixen look. "We need to practice our dance, after all."

Ranjali was ready to suggest that they stay. There is more to see! But the smoldering temptress does her in, completely. "Yes. Dancing. We should… " She looks around, seeking a street without any chance of people to see, "We should go. Just let me… ah, are you comfortable with apparating?"

Audrey walks with Ranjali to a safe, dark place. "Apparating? I've…never done it." There is a moment of nervousness, but then she curls her arms around Ranjali, "But I trust you."

Ranjali steps into a shadowed doorway, pulling Audrey in close. "Just hold on, alright?" As soon as her lover has done so, she takes them both back to the house on the hill, apparating them both right into the bedroom. And once she has made certain that the singer is passed the effects of a first time, she picks up right where that smoldering vixen look left off, continuing long after the festivities in the city have come to an end.

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