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AMRITSAR PILGRIMAGE

Amritsar is quite simply extraordinary—one of the world's most rewarding travel destinations—frequented by devotees, overseas tourists and the Sikh Diaspora. On my recent trip to seek blessings for the new year, what I experienced in The Golden Temple was not just a pilgrimage which draws Sikhs from around the globe; simultaneously congregational and personal, I experienced something similar to all devotees while intensely private… The Golden Temple speaks to each person differently and the experience of praying there is transformative.

 

Faith, prayers and a deep belief is all I carried with me at 1 p.m. as I deposited my sneakers at the cloak room and covered my head with my favourite Anupamaa woollen scarf. The marble path leading up to the gurudwara was cool as I approached the entrance and stepped through the water channel to cleanse my feet. Whenever I set foot into the gurudwara complex, it's a powerful experience, and as I descended the steps I felt I had once again entered an oasis of peace far from the dissonance of the surroundings. PS The entrances from all four directions signify that people from all walks of life are equally welcome. Harmandir Sahib stood resplendent in its glory, its golden reflection shimmering in the Amrit Sarovar. Bowing to touch my forehead to the marble, I paid homage and expressed gratitude to WaheGuru that He had made a visit possible, again. A feeling of peace enveloped me despite thousands of devotees jostling towards the holy shrine; even at this hour, on a week day, the grounds were packed!

 

Usually the devout line up in a methodical manner and walk towards the inner sanctum. Today,, it was chaotic as people from around the world as well as neighbouring villages descended in droves and made their way towards a path leading towards the inner sanctum [it would have taken an hour to join the line had the sevadaar not ushered the ladies down a separate queue!]. The mood swayed between quiet prayers, singing kirtan and frenzied celebrations as the line moved slowly towards the inner sanctum. Though it took an hour due to people ahead of me, I had moments of quiet connection where I felt blessed; I felt that my prayer had been heard. Somehow, I just knew. 

 

Reminiscing about the experience, it’s easy to be a part of the sangat if you open yourself to it… at times acknowledged with a smile or comment but often passionately chanting 'Wahe Guru'. I was struck by the powerful feelings it evoked in me, closed my eyes to listen to the kirtan, and then did the Parikrama, often standing quietly to appreciate the Golden Temple's sheer magnificence. It was past 3 p.m. when I headed out, the winter chill cut off by sunshine. Being there made me feel blessed and reinforced by the belief that Wahe Guru will guide us through life. [2.1.2017]

— JASMEEN DUGAL

 
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