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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 trip last fortnight to seek blessings, 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 10 a.m. as I deposited my sneakers at the cloak room and covered my head with my favourite shawl. 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. 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.

 

I didn't know then that this was one of the most auspicious days on the Sikh calendar — and thousands of Sikhs were there celebrating the anniversary of the publication of Guru Granth Sahib. The Golden Temple was decked with flowers and I just stood in awe for a while — it wasn't a coincidence that I had chosen just that date to come pay my respect to Wahe Guru Ji. It was a blessing from Him. And I walked towards the long, long queues with a spring in my step…  Usually the devout line up in a methodical manner and walk towards the inner sanctum and today was no different despite lacs of pilgrims present. The mood swayed between quiet prayers, singing kirtan and frenzied celebrations as the line moved slowly towards the inner sanctum. Though it took four hours due to the people ahead of me, I had moments of quiet connection where I felt blessed; I felt that my prayer had been heard when I bowed in front of the Guru Granth Sahib. 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. Being there made me feel blessed and reinforced by the belief that Wahe Guru will guide us through life. [10.9.2018]

— JASMEEN DUGAL

 
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