India · Letters · Travel

Dear Kedarnath,

Shiva in his true form

I was nine years old when I had first seen the movie ‘Sound of Music’. Clear blue skies adorned with snow-clad mountains were a distant dream for me. My parents told me that we would be going to Kedarnath and Badrinath with our cousins and they all seemed pretty excited about it. I did not understand what all the enthusiasm was about. We thought we will walk up the mountain to Kedarnath from Gaurikunda. While we were reaching our destination, I saw the first wall of snow. Blue sky and mountains wrapped around by soft snow. I could hear faint chants of prayers by a group of Pandits. The hills were alive with the sound of music

What I remember most about you is the conviction that the people have in you. It is funny how things work and our epicenter of energy comes from our aorta more than our muscles.  Old and aged seemed to have the elixir of youth and walked up to your doorsteps. I was a teenager back then and I did not think much about faith. I was basking in the beauty of the nature that the mother earth had put together. My brother and I danced and shouted on snow cushions. Few worshipers walked past and looked at us with rancor while we hit them with snowballs.

My parents did not believe much in God, they still don’t. I thought I should visit the temple, not for any specific reason though. My father groaned and complained because he had to take me to the temple. But he took me, nonetheless and we started at 7 in the evening. I stepped inside and saw people going around the lord of destruction couple of times. I too followed the herd not understanding why I was going around the temple seven times. I have this urge to just pray once to God with complete faith but throw few stones at him and see the results and then again pray to him adding all the rituals. Like I have always wondered – What if I don’t send my reports today, what is the worst that could happen? Being a media planner makes you see the world as a medium, even parents and friends.

I went inside the temple and saw the lord himself. I was scared but confident. I took few flowers and handed it to him. He didn’t need prayers. I came back running to my father, “Daddy I saw Shankar.” My father smiled and said, “It must have been the Pandit you nut”.  I looked back and I saw that it was a Pandit indeed. He rolled a joint and started smoking with a backdrop of silver peak shinning in the moonlight. I walked down the stairs while I saw devotees singing hymns and climbing up.

I ran back to my family. The fireplace was lit and food was ready. While eating my Khichadi I thought about the Pandit smoking, the walk around the temple and the shivling and the cold mountains in the evening. I still think about it, even today. The incident carries no profound meaning but the event does have continuity. Some things are remembered because they are beyond reason. Sometimes it is best when we meet God in a dream while we search him in mountains. Those Tirthyatris might not have met god but they did feel what Maria must have felt in the movie- With songs they have sung for a thousand years.



One thought on “Dear Kedarnath,

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