Thursday, March 30, 2006


A 2 a.m. journey from the weariness of a hard-fought day
into the dead of the night
And I'm startled by the hordes streaming forth
from the hearths of the city

People walking, laughing, singing;
Men jocund: resting by the wayside, waiting for the rest to catch up;
Women chanting, their voices keeping their barefoot moments company;
Children hoisted on their fathers' shoulders,
Youth prostrating themselves at a every hundred steps
leaving behind a trail of smouldering oil lamps
lighting the way for the generations to follow.

This is their weekly pilgrimage:
Their weekly soujourn from sin to salvation
from wish to fulfilment
from the darkness of a Monday night
into the light of the holy Tuesday morn
In the hope that their penance will bring them peace.

Mumbai's Siddhivinayak Temple is dear to many of the city's 15 million inhabitants. People leave their homes soon after midnight on Monday and walk the many kilometres to the temple in Prabhadevi. A pilgrimage performed in earnest they believe, will grant them their heart's desire: be it the recovery of a sick loved one or good results in an examination just concluded.

While I had heard of people undertaking this walk from suburbs as far as Andheri and Versova, I had never actually seen the crowds on otherwise deserted Mumbai streets in the early hours of any Tuesday. The first time that I did this week, I was surprised at the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people I passed by between Dadar and Bandra.

Faith, it seems is something us agnostics will always have trouble understanding.

No comments:

IndiBlogger - The Indian Blogger Community