Last couple of weeks have been HECTIC, with a capital H. My bhuaji is visiting us along with her younger daughter. We all have a blast whenever any of our cousins are here. We just freak out on food & shopping. :O) Like all NRIs visiting India, their schedule is jam-packed. So their is a lot of travelling too. And all are on my ‘favorite activities’ list :O). It was with them that I visited Harmandir Sahib Gurudwara at Amritsar.
I was visiting Harmandir Sahib Gurudwara (a.k.a. The Golden Temple) after a long time. Harmandir is actually a form of ‘Hari ka mandir’ and the highest temporal seat of the sikhs. The gurudwara is located in the old city part of Amritsar and thousands of devotees pay obeisance every day so the road leading to the gurudwara is really congested and there is parking problem too. One of my bhuaji’s very dear friend was leading our way along with her family in their car and we followed behind. We reached around 7:15 pm and there was twilight glow in the sky. The shoes were left in the cars to beat the queue at the Joda-Ghar (a place to keep shoes). We dipped our feet in shallow water at the entrance, a thoughtful practice in gurudwaras to wash away the dirt and keep the gurudwara clean. One has to ascend and descend a fleet of stairs to enter. And when you raise your eyes to behold the spectacle, you are captivated. There was Harmandir Sahib in the centre of the sarovar, standing serene with it golden walls and gumbad, surrounded by water. Illumination from all sides made it look aglow in golden aura. It reminded me of the majesty and the aura of the Tajmahal. While the Taj is located on a high platform which gives it its majestic look, Harmandir Sahib’s central place in a sarovar lends it a calmness. Taj seems to be out of this world due to its ethereal beauty, almost inasseccible, but Harimandir Sahib looks human. Amritsar is named after this sarovar only. The water is termed as ‘Amrit’ and ‘Sar’ means sarovar.
As we entered, Ardas (collective prayer) started and everybody, 100s of people around the sarovar and on the jampacked pier leading to the gurudwara in the centre of the sarovar, stood still with folded hands. The only movement was of the shimmering reflection of the gurudwara in the sarovar water and the two saffron Nishan Sahib flags fluttering high up in the air. It was as if time has stood still for a few minutes. The words of the ardas wafted through the air, interspersed with collective chants of “Waa…he…guruu, Waheguru”. It was some sight to see hundreds of people standing still and bowing collectively at the end of the prayer.
Then we made a clock-wise parikrama around the gurudwara and got prasad to offer. Lot of people were taking a snana (holy dip or bath) in the sarovar although the water was a bit murky. We just wet our hands, feet and face. Despite its size and traffic, the parikrama floor was very clean. Mostly because of ‘feet-dipping’ practice outside the gurudwara. Once on the pier across the water, the going becomes very slow. I noticed fish moving in the sarovar! People are allowed inside only in batches. Two sevadars were holding a piece of cloth across the width and were allowing people inside only when the earlier batch has left. Although there was no pushing around and the crowd was very disciplined, but after the recent stampede at the kumbh mela, I think that the ‘controlled entry’ was a very practical idea.
As you approach the gurudwara, you can not but marvel at the intricate designs etched on the gold-plated walls. The etchings are even more intricate on the interior walls. Now on retrospection, I think that I was so awestruck and distracted by the interiors that I lost some of the reverence I had in my heart! I’m feeling a bit guilty about it now. (oop-y) Also, I barely got time to bow my forehead, because of the rush. After that was a quick exit because we had to rush back home as it was getting dark. Every thing ended so abruptly that I have a sense of dissatisfaction lingering on my mind. I want to go again sometime and spend some sitting inside the gurudwara, savor the shabad-gurbani, and just have a feeling of oneness with The Supreme.