A long awaited, belated post. March 2017 was the time, and it was my time to go to India, escaping the not so warm climates..it was a joyous occasion taking the family back home and most importantly celebrating the Indian wedding ceremony of our daughter.
After the celebrations, our destination was Rishikesh – a spiritual abode with the calm and clean waters of the holy Ganges. A few days of soaking in the sun, yoga and evening riverside evening aarti prayers made me rejuvenate with all things spiritual – a special blog on this is awaiting!
What lied ahead was an experience I would live with my entire life! The birth place of the celebration of the most culturally popular festival in India -Holi was our next destination. Mathura, is associated with Lord Krishna and temples, but now an overcrowded mixture of man made spirituality and urbanization. Mathura is a mixture of gaudy, superficial so called temples with age old original temples tucked in little alleyways. Was it pure devotion or just blind faith? I had to wait and see.
After getting to know the programme for the day, our next task was the logistics. Our driver advised us that he leave us till the main road and we take the rickshaw to the main temple where the festivities would start in the afternoon. We had no choice and he was right indeed. The main road was already full of people walking to what we thought was our destination too.
After a few reluctant rickshaw drivers, we decided to walk in the heat, and we were delighted to find a huge mob following a van with blaring microphones chanting the Holi devotional songs, along with some bollywood tunes! This mob was no ordinary mob – they were devotees full of fervour, and armed with the Holi colours. We were just enjoying the atmosphere in the sidelines, and suddenly got sucked in the mob by some lovely ladies , and in no time we were in with them playing the Holi game! I was experiencing a true authentic street festival, and thought to myself – ‘ this is it’
Reaching the temple on time, and gaining a front seat to the entrance and we thought we have hit the jackpot! A longish waiting game was compensated by a visual delight of the devotees singing away passionately. For my photographer husband, it was ‘the moment’!. Little did we realise, that behind us was a 1000 more strong contingent trying to get to where we were. Panic had begin to set in, but it didn’t materialise till when the doors suddenly were thrown open – me , my husband and the bystanders were just thrown like a gush of water out of a broken pipe. We were out of control, being pushed, pulled and squeezed in by this uncontrollable crowd who had one aim in mind – to reach the central courtyard. Separated from my husband, disorientated, dizzy with the noise and human mass , my ”this is it” moment had soon vanished in the smokey air which surrounded the main quarter.
In a few minutes, sudden calm prevailed, chants continued although much mellower, a cloud of flowers and holi colours over me, and the storm was over, as if nothing had happened.
My earlier question of ‘pure devotion or just blind faith’ still remains unanswered. Maybe another visit awaits……