Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A pilgrimage

Hyderabad is one of my favourite cities. Recently I made a four day trip. It evoked lot of fond memories, of times with friends and time  around with family. I had done most of my wedding shopping here. I had spent a very nice year just before marriage. But the main draw of the place is the Chilkur Balaji temple. 

I am not a very devout person. I believe God does stuff and He will do the needful. We need not coax Him, bargain with Him or bribe Him. But I had some desperate times in my first firm. I was unhappy on a lot of fronts and needed a change. That's when my close friend S told me about Chilkur Balaji. For people who are not familiar the deity is also called Visa Balaji for devotees get their visas approved upon visit to the temple! The concept of the temple is very simple. One needs to do 11 circumabulations of the temple when asking for a wish to be granted. Once the desire is fulfilled one needs to do 108 circumambulations (pradakshina). I am not a believer in such stuff. Once I tried to fast on a Shiv Ratri because there was an important cricket match and could not do it beyond 1300. One horror-scope errr horroscope dude had asked me to leave non vegetarian food on Sunday for some  problem and I was like go take a hike. So when my friend told me about the Chilkur temple I half heartedly gave it a 'shot'. Kinda like ' yeah bhi try kiya jaye'

When I entered the temple I could feel the positive vibes. I think that is the most important part of visiting a temple....to get a good positive feeling. People were going around the temple and chanting  Govinda which gave  goose bumps.  I did the 11 pradakshina and within a few days my desire for a change was fulfilled . Coincidence? Maybe. But I was a convert. 

The priests at the temple keep extolling that there is no special puja or darshan. All that is expected is chanting of Vishnu 's name and concentrating on Him. I feel it is a very rational expectation. If we feel God gave us something all we need to do is concentrate on Him and fill ourselves with good thoughts for the 2-3 hours that it takes to do the circumambulations. For the health oriented ones, it's good cardio ;) 

I had prayed to the God during some tough times. I don't even remember how many times I had prayed to Him. Per my estimate it was four. Since I am in India this was a chance to visit. My school friend Sam was also around which made it a double whammy. The first day we just went to just visit. Since there was no crowd I decided to do 108 pradakshina s. Chiyaa also did a few with me. She was skipping, running, jumping and doing all sorts of antics. She made the whole ritual so much more pleasant. The darshan was spectacular! We saw the deity from such close quarters. I have been to the temple many times but never seen Him from such close proximity. We had plans to visit the next day but because of a bit of mis-planning we were not able to make it. I visited the next two days and completed three out of four. The visits were splendid! There was no crowd and we viewed the deity from such proximity! The children were ultimately well behaved and though I had some doubts as to how they would be, He took care of them. 

I also noticed the popularity of the deity. There was a sardarji doing pradakshina. I heard Odia, Bengali and Gujrati in the crowd. There were people on wheelchairs and babies in prams. The feel, the vibe, the aura was surreal. And in typical Indian style the driver who ferried us everyday was a guy called Shaik! Talk about  secularism :) Indians live it.

A fantastic four days filled with piety and of course some shopping ;) My mother and shopping gp hand in hand! ;) I have a few more prayers..... Here is hoping I get to visit Him soon!

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