The fireball of midday sun is high above in the azure sky. No clouds
offer the refuge of shade and most of the trees have withered under
the scorching, intense glare of the sun.
In front of me, hundreds of people, all ages, shapes and sizes rush to
the riverside. I stand at the bank of the most significant and
cherished river of my faith, the Holy River Ganges.
Different smells mingle together - spices, body odours, and rotting
corpse. To an out-sider it seems like total chaos, but for me, it is
like coming home.
Masses of people tumble past to get to the river, slipping and sliding
on the concrete Ghats (platforms or steps where pilgrimers bathe or
people cremate bodies) and end up colliding with naked bodies bathing
in the Ganges.
On the roads, tradesmen and stall people try their hardest to sell
passers-by something, whether it be insect ridden fruit or tiny
miniscule statues of various Gods or Goddesses. The homeless line the
streets like insulation from the outside world and urchins play in the
dust. However they are all oblivious to their filthy surroundings,
just content to be near the Ganges.
On the far side of the riverbank I can see a funeral taking place. A
burning corpse crowded by loved ones. A couple of metres down, a frail
young woman stands alone on a rock, a copper urn in her hands. Her
white sari blowing poignantly in the gentle breeze, she turns it over
and the ashes fly free, scattering about like confetti. The woman
slumps down onto the rock and grieves for her lost one. From the size
of her urn, I'm guessing it was her child.
Ganges. Holy River to the entire rel...
... middle of paper ...
...vate thing, a line of communication between only
you and God? Why would you want to do it in some dusty, noisy foreign
land when you can perform virtually the same ceremonies in the privacy
of your home? Pujas can be performed at home and it has more
significance if you do it alone or with your family.
Nowadays temples, shrines and special places of prayer are springing
up throughout the country. As the Hindu community grows larger in
Britain, there are more requests to set up temples to accommodate the
faith. Places like the Swami Narayan Temple in Neasden, The Jain
Temple in Leicester and The Oshwal Centre in Potters Bar, North London
pull in thousands for weddings, funerals and religious festivals.
There is no reason for a Hindu to go traipsing around the world when
these places are practically in our back garden.
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