The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

merry sounds

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering through Manhattan on Saturday the 24th of April, your humble narrator suddenly found himself in a throng of colorfully dressed people. Willfully, I denied myself the opportunity to ask anyone what was going on, and instead preferred total ignorance of the significance of such a gathering.


Because sometimes it’s important to let New York show you what it wants you to see and not ask too many questions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ethnographic assumptions suggested to me that this crowd most likely had its origins on the mysterious subcontinent of India, based on observable physical features and style of dress. Also, many people were eating what I recognized as Indian food. Further trespass into the unknown would assert that these folks are most likely Sikh’s. Such ideations of national specificity hatch from the particular head wrappings and sheer physical size of the men.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Crowded, with what seemed to be thousands of children dashing about in panics of joy, there was a cacophony of conversation and color all around me. Spoken in some foreign tongue, foreign to me at least, their language carried a certain lilting and almost musical tone in utterance- which, I noted- were backed up by a seemingly simultaneous stream of information manifested by a secondary language of hand postures. I have noted that Indian people “speak with their hands” in the past, a cherished tradition of all New Yorkers here in the Shining City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On 25th street, this enigmatic fellow was intently focused on what seemed to be either religious devotions or preparation of a ceremonial space. The little palace had flowers pinned to it, and seemed to a be a focal point for many of the men to gather and greet each other. On the corner of Madison, the female percentage of the crowd fell off somewhat. That’s when I realized this was a parade of some kind.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling to an out of the way spot, your humble narrator wondered if the variegated colors of the garb had any significance, and whether it denoted society or affiliation or caste. Musing about whether or not these might be gang colors in some far away place or time, a magnificent cast of characters then passed by- reminding me of a costumed group of super heroes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sikh’s, if Sikh’s these folks be, are known to exhibit great physical size- which distinguishes them from their more economically built Asian neighbors. This isn’t scientific, just a personal observation- if I see an Indian Guy who’s over 6 foot and well over 200 pounds, I always think “Sikh”. Afghans also are quite stoutly built, but Sikh men are huge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator continued his long scuttle back to Queens, where- odds are- many of these people likely dwell. There are several Sikh temples near and in Astoria, and I’ve been trying to work up the courage to visit one. I’m intrigued, but I like churches best from the outside. Always… I must remain outside.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If anyone can identify this event, or positively assess the identity of the crowd, please share.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 28, 2010 at 3:14 am

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