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While many of the existent Indian people in the world would have celebrated the Hindu New Year with lights, some visiting their near and loved ones, some going about making trips to macau, singapore or greece for that matter, some dozing off to let out the whole year’s stress and perhaps some who say they did supposedly nothing than sit in front of the TV and check out the daily soaps, i made a quiet trip to NATHDWARA.

Rashee bhabhi had come home for the diwali since the last fortnight and we had been visiting various places in and around the city, although perhaps archeologists, historians and ethnic city dwellers wouldnt be happy with the places i showed her. Parents are the key to all the things, prizes and problems, and so it came again to mom who had since long made a wish to visit Nathdwara and show bhabhi of what is perhaps one of the busiest, crowdiest and chaotic pilgrim place in the world. So, we made a journey to the place in the morning of the new year.

When you see, around 10000 or more tribals, ‘bhils’ as people call them,

all sitting on wall tops, road sides, cowering in the slight early winter chill, making funny obstreperous crypted noises, coupled with devotees from all round the state- nay, the world pouring in for the DARSHAN, although you’re devoted and have immense religious power, you do feel the heat. “To describe the night of ANKUT na darshan, where hundreds of mishtans, sweets and farsan are placed on HIS feet for blessings, IT WAS A CHAOTIC but an amazing SPECTACLE.” The Ankut darshan generally happens in the night at around 8.30-9. and would ideally stay till 11.00 pm. But that day, the line for Men to enter was like a sea wave, like the doll faces one sees in Jagannath puri rathyatra or Mecca pilgrimage in saudi. When a wave would come, it would sweep many in the forward plunge or kick backward in the other way round. Amidst all these, loud chants and calls for Giriraj Dharan and Shyam, Dwarikanath echoed the ever bustling streets. The heat due to the commotion or the chilly warly winter breeze didnt seem to affect many, apart from the those agnostics and new comers. I still believe its a really strange and serene feeling standing there amidst all the pushing elbowing and yet not feeling anything less than the love for HOLY GOVARDHAN. For according to the legend, even aurangzeb was blinded by Govardhan prabhu’s powers and Mughal dynasty would prior would regard Vaishnavas with reverence. Earlier in the day, we had GAU KHEL and GOVARDHAN PUJA where century old traditions of teasing and playing with cows by the cowherds and the puja of the holy Govardhan mountain would happen respectively to all spectators’ eyes looking with awe.

Later at around 12 midnight we finally got a chance to enter the mandir, get HIS ALMIGHTY’s madhuram glimpse and get the chance to view something of sorts that could be experienced once a lifetime. According to the tradition, the tribals or bhils are allowed to enter the mandir premises only one day in a year and that on the day of Ankut for the great loot. Well, no its not the great loot retail outlet, nor a bank robbery, its a custom where tons of hot steaming rice or SAKHDI as its known is kept in HIS chamber and the bhils get the permission to enter, gather/ steal or snatch the rice, have darshan and take as much as they can for them and their families. The twist in the tale is, the temple authorities hide a golden ornament in the rice and the one to find it is regarded as very lucky. Its the only day perhaps in the history where we socialized, educated and cultured people beg the bhils to give a handful of the rice or even try and steal from them a pocketful for it is considered that if we get the rice and save it in our financial saving deposit, it brings luck and goodwill. And so, the world saw the temple bath in the rice, mud, fun, stealing for love and rich stealing from deprived. Where would you see that?

In this land of  sands and desert, Rajasthan, all kinds of people are found. Mirages turning up and moving around like ghosts, sometimes acting as helpers and sometimes vices and problems. In this land of sands and sweets, of scent and droughts i went to the town of Nathdwara to get blessings, perhaps not religiously but for that spiritual journey, for like all agnostics i question nature and existence of supreme being but like all theists and believers i believe in existence of a power and a light that beams in all directions always to help us and guide us.

So that was the beginning of the New Year for me, a time starting the season of fall, and perhaps a time i came to know more about my newly found Bhabhi for my elder brother.

PS: They got engaged 3 months back in what was the most unrealistic manner and quickest of engagements. That story later. 🙂

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