Bajrang Bali ki jai!

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And it begins…. my dharam yatra (probably much needed as I am the jaali-est hindu-of-sorts there ever was! The 180km drive from Jaipur (after a 7hr drive from Delhi earlier the same day) through rural Rajasthan to the 300 yr old shrine devoted to Hanuman, Salasar ji, was surprisingly, or actually seeing my complacent nature, not quite, was okay. Needless to say I was NOT in my element but neither was my father due to language and protocol issues but he atleast had the mannat bit down. I was vacant eyed and open to prodding instructions from the panditji, routinely offering wrong limbs and fingers at crucial moments. Etching the swastik with sindoor  and smearing rice on my handiwork I approved of as it was like a craft exercise. There! I am completely terrible. Anyway the best part of the Temple (once you can re-focus after all that gold and silver panelling) are these two trees in the courtyard full of thousands of sparrows. Delhi’s state bird it would seem has taken holy refuge from the smog in the heart of Bajrang Bali himself and I don’t blame them. It was simply marvelous and I could stand and look at them for ages. Never seen so many intrepid sparrows sitting and chirping amidst all the ritualistic cacophony, their call almost harmonious with the bells, miscellaneous prayers, chants and “Jai Shri Bajrang Balis”. That, by the way, is the standard greeting. In fact, it is substituted for the three magic words in all known languages as well. Sorry, thank you, please… “Jai Shri Bajrang Bali”  – one for all and all for one!

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The tree in the evening is not so clear but the white dots on the picture are the said happy lil sparrows.

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Our grand ol’ man himself post darshan, mighty pleased.

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The evening aarti at the Sewa Sadan we are put up at. Boy! Am I getting the full bhakti treatment. I was shying away from this so far other than partaking of yumprasad after my sister-in-law’s morning puja and brother’s Tuesday and Saturday Hanuman mandir visits but now there is no looking back. I have a be-threaded left (not the offered right) wrist to prove it.

The khaara paani of this land would make me quite scanty haired. Maliciously, scratching my itchy head,  I think it must be why I see one girl for every 1000 men on the road and all of them with ghunghat till their knees. I am looking forward to the “Pink City” of Jaipur and what I manage to see of it in the few hours I have today. If nothing else, the leheria duppattas be calling out to me most insistently. I just hope I see more women out there.  I am beginning to get quite alarmed at their marked absence.

Jai Shri Bajrang Bali.

(Only, I’m pretty sure the big man himself wouldn’t go around hauling women out of clubs. He looks quite nice I say!)

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