Shabbat In India

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Aviva Kanoff
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shabbat in India

When you travel to India, you know you're gonna be in for an adventure — which is exactly why you go.

"Expect the unexpected", you're told. Nothing highlights this idea more than the three Shabbosim I spent in India.

shabbat in the himalyas

Week One: Cholent in a Tent in Dharamsala

After a 14 hour plane ride immediately followed by a 12 hour bus ride into the night, my friend and I finally arrived in Dharmsala, home of the Dalai Lama, located in the north of India. (No, he did not invite us in for Kiddush, but that would be a good story.) My friend and I, along with about 50 other jews — mostly Israeli citizens recouping from their time in the army — davened Kabalat Shabbat together in a makeshift house/tent followed by a Kiddush and an Israeli/Indian dinner.

Everyone enjoyed the curried cholent!

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Week 2 : Muslim Shabbat on a Houseboat in Kashmir

"I'm Jewish. Is that gonna be a problem?" I asked when my new Kashmiri friend suggested we spend the weekend on his brother's houseboat on Dal Lake in Kashmir.

"'No ma'am!" he responded. "My sister in law is Jewish!"

houseboat in kashmir for shabbat

My friend, and I, along with two other Jewish travelers, (including an Israeli soldier,) spent a relaxing Shabbat with our Muslim hosts. They even baked us Challah!  I'm still waiting for my Nobel Peace Prize.

chabad in india

Week 3: Chabad in Pushkar, Rajasthan, with Bamba Snacks. 

My friend and I arrived in Pushkar, a small village in the Rajasthan region of India. Because of all of the Israeli travelers, many of the Indian store owners can speak Hebrew. Among the typical hustle and bustle you find thousands of colorful saris, cows walking down the street, camels, vendors selling their wares and more. You also see many cafés featuring falafel and shakshuka on their menus and Hebrew writing all over. The popular Indian name, Shimesh, is changed to "Shemesh" to accommodate the Israelis as well.

We spent a lively shabbat with the Chabad rabbi and his 13 children and about 150 fellow travelers. The Rabbi would ask questions during the meal offering Israeli Bamba snacks to reward the right answers.

Every one of those experiences were unique and special in their own right. Traveling always has it's challenges but if you can live to tell the story- it's worth it!

Now you can travel to India in your home with a few of my favorite Indian recipes:

Channa Masala

Channa Masala

Beef Curry Korma with Sliced Almonds Closeup

Beef Korma

aloo gobi

Aloo Gobi

Have you been to India? Do you like Indian food? let me know in the comments below.