If you’ve not read the earlier parts of this travelogue, feel free to go to the links below. If you have, brave on!
Getting off from the helicopter the Shrine was just about 2 kilometres away.
As we walked on the cobbled stones, it felt wonderful. And it was ccccold. But charged with the speed and efficiency of the helicopter, we marched onwards to our destination.
The Vaishnodevi legend is beautiful for those who don’t know it. I am not going to narrate it here. Needless to say, I always approach a shrine with more of a spiritual feeling than a religious one.
And what always, always, always appeals to me in religious places is the collective faith that gathers here. The people who approach this shrine are indeed perfect examples of that.
They come with immense faith. And sometimes nothing but.
I saw a young couple with a toddler, walk, yes walk, all the way up. One of them carried the baby, the other person carried their bag. From time to time, they’d exchange their respective burdens. From the looks of it, I don’t know what difference it made, but they did it, as they chanted “Jai mata di” with all the religious fervor possible.
I saw old people wending their way slowly up the cobbled path to the shrine. Weary but with a clear glint of faith in their eyes. The Divine Mother was waiting for them. They’d do this no matter what.
I saw youngsters in jeans and t-shirts, the types you’d expect to see munching pop corn in your local theatre and they walked up with the gusto and strength of the youth and the belief and spirituality of age.
And I saw families. Friends. Groups of all kinds. Fat people. Thin ones. Young. Old. Ailing. Babies. Toddlers. Mothers. Fathers. All moving towards a common destination. All united by faith. A central mantra. A song. A hymn. Or just the rousing cries of “Jai Mata Di” (Hail the Mother) as if it added a spurt of energy into their step as they wended the arduous way up.
If the crowds in any Hindu shrine are a deterrent, the sense of faith that unites everyone is something worth experiencing. I’ve seen it time and again. Whether it is at the Sai Baba temple in Shirdi, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, here in Vaishnodevi or even the Mahalaxmi temple in Mumbai. It’s faith that brings everyone to the divine doorstep and faith that sends them back with the conviction that there is a higher power that will look after them in their times of need.
Long ago, somewhere I had read the definition of an atheist: a person with no imaginary means of support.I so agree.
For those who believe in God, or a Supreme Being, no matter what their religion is, there is this pillar that is always there to lean on – whether in times of joy or sorrow. Every time I visit one of these temples or shrines, I come back my soul refreshed, my spirituality renewed, just seeing this spectacle of faith.
Jai Mata Di!
And the story continues here
Food for Thought #FiveDaysOff Part Four
Did you miss the earlier posts?
Helicopters, heights and a new high #FiveDaysOff Part Two
A great start… and a miracle #FiveDaysOff Part One