01st March 2016

I met this wonderful couple while waiting at the Kovil in Tirupati. We are all still waiting until the gates open for the Darshan. Since I didn't have a ticket I joined the Sarvadarshan where it is like packed with people. The gent I met, told me that I was lucky to have been able to get in so easily and quickly today, as it is off season. If I had come after the 11th of March, I would have to wait in the que for at least half a day because of the huge crowds. Apparently, the crowds are more during exam seasons, so this was just before. Lucky me :).

He and his wife were really very nice. We just chatted about our families and life in Sri Lanka and Chennai and so on. At the Sarvadarshan, since you are like locked up in a room from about 5.30 am till about 9am or later, they serve you specially made breakfast - rice and tea/coffee or milk as you wish. Wow, pretty cool. The gent I met went to the crowd and brought me and his wife the rice and tea.I was very dirty by now and couldn't eat with my hands unwashed. So just took the rice which was wrapped in a tree leaf and ate up like tortilla or some kind of a wrap instead of taking bits.  They started serving this breakfast at about 6am and just as they started, people went crazy to get into que to get the breakfast! NUTS! As if this was the first time they've ever seen food. They would even step on you just to get to the food. The wife told me not to go to get the food and asked me to keep sitting next to her until her husband brought the food. I understood why she didn't want me squeezed in the crowd of men. It was mostly the men that went to the que and got food for the women and children. Females hardly went unless there were only women in the group or alone. Even after eating, the gent collected everything to put aside. I didn't even have to get up from where I was. But now it is getting uncomfortable to sit on the steps on the ground as people are sleeping all over the place. They have been. It's not the sleeping that bothered me, but the inconsiderateness of the people. They would just put their legs on you as if you are invisible. Or just walk across where you are sitting. Unbelievable.

The gent and the wife made sure I was not disturbed very badly. Since I was with them, no one bothered me.

At about 5 minutes to 9am, the gent joined the laddu que. From the time I got here, the laddu que had been there continuously. India always fascinate me with how many people there are. To have a ticket que for at least 3 hours with no end is unbelievable! But it happens in India. By this time it was at least lesser crowd. At 9am the gates opened and just like a cattle released, people started to run through the gate into the corridor. The gent told us to wait calmly until he bought the laddu ticket. "We shouldn't be in such hurry. Although these people go they have to wait till the ticketed priority Darshans take place, so no hurry for us". When he went to buy laddu, I also felt like buying laddu. Why not? And joined the que. Of course I had to buy a ticket only after face screening and all that. Then the 3 of us joined the que in the corridor.

The gent was right. Although they ran, they were still standing in the que not too far from us. People were chanting praise to God. "Venkatawara Govinda!". One man would shout the whole thing first and the crowd would join repeating "Govinda!". As this started, the spirit started to build up. Now it feels like I am actually in a Kovil in India. At one point, I could hear this kid being the leader of the chanting, shouting chants and the rest of the crowds followed. It was interesting and fun. Made the wait in the very very long que more enjoyable and easy.

I noticed women shaved their head off. I noticed it in men when I was outside, but now there are bald women too. When I asked the Gent when we were chatting before he said it is puja. If they have come before and have asked for something from God and that wish has come true, then the next time they come, they shave off their heads in respect and puja for God. While we were waiting for the gates to open this gent was like "when you go inside the mandir, wish and ask from God to find a very good husband. I also don't have anything to wish for myself, so I will also wish for you to find a good husband. So then you can come again with your husband and have your head shaven". He was really sweet :)

All throughout, going through the corridor in the crowds, the Man and his wife protected me from others. One would stand in front of me and the other would stand behind me. They always made sure that they didn't miss me or I didn't get lost. The Gent would guide us on how to go through this crowd. Whenever possible he would remind me to ask God for a good husband. It was a very long route to the main temple. People would push you from all directions. You just have to be careful with your belongings and also self. I didn't lose anything, but all is good to be on the safe side. Having said that, it wasn't a very difficult or unpleasant journey.

At the end of a long route, finally at the entrance of the main temple. The crowds are much much more here, because even ticketed pilgrims are all gathered at this point. Just as you enter the main gate of the main temple, you see this beautiful golden mandir. Just so beautiful I regretted every moment not having a camera with me. It is something I can't explain in words. It is covered in gold. The gent would tell me how to go and what to look at so that I won't miss any of the sight seeing. Squeezed in the crowds and yet my head was turning to all directions as I wanted to absorb it all. It was that beautiful. Thoughts of my family came to my mind. I wished they were here with me right now. I wanted them to see this. I wanted to share this experience with them. A truly magical, spiritual experience I will never forget and always cherish. A golden temple with people dressed in pure white, heads shaven, so much respect and devotion. It is true that Tirupathi is the most commercialized Kovil in India, but this experience right now makes you understand why.

Our que was moving very slowly so I was gonna move on to another. Now, there was one thick que with 3 ques in it. So as the people moved each line would go forward. Ours was slow. There were many security personnel. People were not allowed to do anything unnecessary/go against rules. They were very strict. I was the only girl in jeans and t-shirt. Now it sort of strike me and I was self conscious. Ignored the security people and didn't attract too much attention to myself. Do NOT make eye contact! :O  Moved along with the Man and the wife according to the man's instructions. The man said "stay in this line,even if its slow just stay in it. because when you go inside, then you will be just in front of God and no one in between". He and his wife has visited this place many times so he knows the drill. As they were treating me like their own child, I didn't do anything against them. Moving forwards, as it gets closer and closer to the statue of the God, the chanting become louder and stronger. The place was filled with the sound of praising the God. The vibe was intense. There was so much spiritual energy. Just as we entered the main temple where the God is, the man told me "now, keep thinking about your wish. Focus only on that. You will get a fraction of a second to be in front of God, so wish it and don't think about anything else now". Just like the man predicted, as we moved along in that row, when it was my turn, I was right in front of God. Face to face. Nothing in between.

It was the most 'spirit lifting' moments of my life and I can see that moment any time I close my eyes.The dark black rock prathima of God Govinda in a golden surrounding. Was a very humbling moment. It was indeed a fraction of a second we got.  In that split second I had, I remember as if everything was going in slow motion. It felt like hours - me facing God.  I prayed for my whole family. For all their deepest wishes to come true. And most importantly for them all to find true happiness in their lives.

 

Original Post www.thesathiworld.wordpress.com

Published by SaThi