From the top of a human pyramid the tiger-headed man spits one last breath of fire while an excited crowd sings and dances underneath him to the rhythm of the drums. It is the celebration of Janmashtami, the anniversary of the birth of Lord Krishna, one of the Hindu Gods.
Our buddies offered us the opportunity to celebrate this day at the Sri Krishna Temple in Udupi, a city close to Manipal, which has proved to be an incredible integration experience.
The journey starts on a noisy bus, we get on at the Tiger Circle and head towards the festival. The Indian counterparts take care of us and help us to pay the tickets and to find some seats.
Rows and rows of rejoicing devotees march behind the float carrying an altar and kids wearing orange capes.
A lady shares her shiny, black braid and grabs a little girl pushing her to the side just before the wall of people floods the street leading to the temple.
White rags of different dimensions and shapes decorate the outside of the building together with flower crowns.
We stand in line barefeet, waiting to get to the chapel where the statue of the God is kept.
Each devotee glances at the dark room through a grill and bow in front of it, we imitate them.
Two men dressed as monks offer us ladles of water with their wheathered hands. We wash our heads and then draw a line in the middle of our foreheads with sandalwood.
A kid with pink painting on his face and gold dots around his eyes shakes our hands smiling to his peers.
Mixed groups of men and women stop to stare at us while our buddies make sure none of us gets lost.
Two young ladies approach us asking to take pictures, making us feel famous for a day.