It was a bright, sunny, cheerful Sunday in January. A motley group of people of all ages, shapes, sizes and energy levels made their way up the undulating countryside…..sometimes on a proper path, sometimes on the unpaved. At their respective paces. In groups.
All of it uphill, the land was dotted with brown, thorny bushes and other not so very engaging flora. Browner than green for the area was still being developed, the view too was of the sky scraping skyline of the city just there. But then an unexpected field of bright yellow flowers (not sarson) added a lovely dash of colour to our sojourn. Gave us impetus to reach our destination-The Temple up the hill.
I must at this stage admit that I prefer my temples to be clean, quiet places largely free of raucous prayers and singing and ideally free of any other visitors other than me. Yes-great expectations I know. So while believing in the good lord above, I tend to avoid his supposed abodes for one can’t really have a conversation with him amidst the deafening devotion of his other devotees who apparently believe that the decibel levels are the true measure of faith.
But not so here. The beautiful white traditional structure, with several turrets was quaint, quiet and incredibly peaceful. From the highest central turret, a triangular red flag fluttered and pigeons perched atop. Home to all the major Hindu deities-Ram, Krishna, Hanuman, Shiva, Kaali and Shani and a couple more, one could pray in peace and if so desired, could just sit in quite repose there.
A shaded, charming garden behind the temple was where we settled ourselves. On durries and “chabutras” (cemented circles) around trees. A huge banyan tree stood majestically on one side, the sun’s rays filtering through its leaves gently while it seemed to look upon us benevolently. The garden boasted a “ber” tree loaded with the unripe fruit and several vegetable plants-brinjals among them.
Enterprising elders from our community had arranged for the temple pujaris to give us lunch. Raw materials provided by us were transformed into delicious chana-aloo, poories, khatta meetha kaddu and a nariyal infused halwa. A simple and delicious meal in serene surroundings.
In the wilderness of our routine, rushed and tempestuous lives, this day was a balm for tired souls, the Temple a place of tranquillity and healing.