I definitely am not the religious types but my better half makes up for more than that. She is devout Vaishnav whereas I am the black sheep so to say. The closest I can get to is walk to Siddhivinayak Temple that too on a Sunday morning. I pray from outside on the TV screens as I hate to take off my shoes and walk barefoot! I know it isn’t right but then aisa hi hoon main:-) And with cycling, the walks have vanished and I just remember the lord as I pedal past.
I landed up in Mathura on May 28, 2014 which is one of the holiest of places for us as it is the birth place of Lord Krishna. There is Nathdwara (Srinathji) too but spare me the technicalities. Too detailed honestly.
An extremely hot 40+ degrees of dry heat greeted us as we reached Jatipura where we stayed the night at Binani dharamshala (yes the same “sadiyon ke liye”) a nice place, proper Airconditioning and more importantly with DG Sets which is a boon in this part of the country. The lunch was simple yet homely. I had those grandiose plans of taking Kavya and my nephews to Agra to see the Taj Mahal but dropped them considering the heat.
In the evening, my co brother Premal, another devout person asked me to come along as he wanted to feed the monkeys. Kids in tow we went. A few of them to start with, grabbing the bread slices. Like children, they would eat the centre of the bread and not the crust. When I remarked, Kavya retorted why not? Man has evolved from the monkey! Beat that. After about 10 minutes they arrived in hoardes with babies clinging to their mothers. Funny thing was that the mother monkey would grab the slices and eat herself. Baby is left to fend for itself maybe? Mothers normally ensure the child is fed first but this was a different experience. As the numbers increased it was getting out of hand as they would try and get closer to grab slices but we had a stick and the waving stick kept them at bay. Once we ran out of slices we moved away and they were merrily fighting over the slices amongst themselves.
We then went to feed the cows. There are gaushalas (cow sheds) and we went to one which had maybe 60 cows. My late grandmother, Ba, would make it a point to feed cows so it was in her memory that I decide to feed cows and calves. You had bags full of fodder that you inverted over and cows would rush in and gobble up. We had a cow and calf that relished the same too.
We then went for Darshan of The Lord. Straight out of the movie Oh my God. They had a milk bath in which litres of milk was poured and it was all washed down the drain. A colossal waste honestly. Then they applied perfumed oils and then sweets loaded with ghee and sugar were offered. Gosh people thronging for this? For me, the only reason for the visit was that my late grandmother wanted the three of us to go worship together. Task completed.
At night, wifey along with her sister and Premal went for Parikrama which is like a 10 or 15 km walk. To add to it they walked barefoot. Found the whole concept of bare feet ridiculous but then I wasn’t party to it so why bother? Worse they walk any time of the day or night. Rain or shine! I was safely with the kids in the room and we were busy playing Uno.
The next morning, we fed the needy. Kachoris and gravy vegetables is their staple breakfast. Deep fried stuff galore and added to that sweets loaded with sugar – I am sure cardiologists and diabetologists would be thriving here. In Rome do as the Romans, so we fed needy children and adults, kachoris and sweet lassi. Instead of offering sweets to the idol or then cash, I have always felt feeding the needy was a far better solution.
One thing I noted was that the lassi we had at the local shops was served in an earthen glass called Batera. Helped keep the lassi cool. I actually got a picture of the heaps of bateras. The salted lassi was awesome.
Apart from the weather, it was a learning experience and it was good to feed humans as well as animals.