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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

juggernauting identity tags

part i

what kind of muslim are you?

ajmer say bulawa aata hay jub hee koi ja pata hay


...a red-eyed traveler arrived at the ajmer railway station in the wee the platform he was immediately accosted by a sherwani...clad young man of his age...where are you from?...have you come for the ziarat? what is your name?

...the traveler was polite but firm in his non-answers...all he wanted to do was freshen up, brush his teeth, have something to eat, see the mazar, recite fateha take in the surroundings and move on to pushkar lake...but this sherwani...clad man kept pestering him with queries and refused to go away... is a fifteen minute walk from the station to the dargah bazaar and then the inner courtyard flanked by two huge beautifully carved doors...just before the entrance the traveler found a roadside eatery and ordered scrambled eggs and tea...hoping the pest would leave him seemed to work and he disappeared from view...after the third cup of doodh-patti the now refreshed traveler paid his bill and entered the gates...`these daigs cauldrons were gifted by the mughals...the pest was back at his side!...

...there are two huge cauldrons ... the bigger one has a capacity of 4480 kg and the smaller one 2240 kg... food is cooked in them and distributed to the pilgrims and visitors...there were bamboo ladders attached to the sides of one of them and a crew was washing the insides of one of them...

...and the pest stuck like a shadow to the traveler...

...inside the courtyard there is the dargha and a mosque and chambers, big and small...and signboards...the signboards declaring this hujrah (chamber) belongs to the successors of hazrat falana falana and that hujrah belonged to the successors of that hazrat falana falana...there must be 40 plus chambers in there…all the hazarats ostensibly must have been noble souls but the present day occupants ... the gadee nashins seem like capitalizing on simpletons...

...there is a a la carte price for vicariously offering offerings, pledges, duas on behalf of absentee muslims in the diaspora...their mailing list is legendary...year in and year out they send out pledge cards and donation solicitations to muslims all over he world completed with self-addressed envelopes and bank account numbers for electronic transfers of funds...

...the traveller looked around...the floor was marbled and being places cracked...their was a raised platform around the grave of the the traveler climbed up to have a look at the sepulcher and offer fateha he saw the intricately woven marble screen around it and silver railings around the huge grave covered in chador... the entrance to the chamber the pest in black sherwani jumped forward and by way of introduction mentioned to a middle aged fellow sitting cross legged behind a low floor desk that the traveler was mr. so an so from TO...the fellow exchanged traditional greetings with the traveler and then forwarded a register…when the traveler ignored that thrust he made a point of asking the traveler to put his name and address down on the register...the traveler wanted to know why...he was told everyone who comes for ziarat signs the register and makes a that is what the scam was, the traveler said to himself...

... 'no, I won't sign this register and I am not here to make any donation' ...the man behind the desk tried to persuade but in vain...finally asking the traveler 'why are you here then'...

'am here to offer fateha, look around and leave' ...

... 'cover your head before you go in there' man behind the desk curtly informed the traveler now the traveler was quite piquant to say mildly

...he glared at the man behind the desk... 'janab hum aisay hee khulay sir andar jaayengay' (sir, I will enter the inner chamber bare headed...

'no you cannot enter bare headed'


'because everyone who enters has to cover the head'
'but i won’t cover my does not say here anywhere…the only sign i saw was to remove the shoes...besides....explain to me this sir...i have been to the haram shareef (kaaba, mecca) and musjid e nabvi (prophet's mosque, medinah) with bare head…so what is so greater about this place?'

'that is a different thing,' the man behind the desk said

'no, it is not'

'what kind of muslim are you?' said the man behind the desk, trying to wriggle out

'i don't know...possibly a very bad muslim...possibly a big gunahgaar...but sir, i know this...i am a better than muslim than you are or can ever be' saying this the traveler raised his hands to offere a fateha from the outside...turned back without entering the inner chamber...invited the man behind the desk to come outside the dargah area so the traveler can throw some choice words at him (he declined)...and left for pushkar...

part ii

what kind of hindu are you?

...your traveler arrived at bhubaneshwar, the sleepy capital of orissa in the east...dubbed as the golden triangle...with Konark and Konark he visited the Sun Temple…once the chariot shaped temple boasted of a huge dome atop the temple being pulled by twenty four wheeled chariot...each stone wheel intricately carved and about ten feet in diameter...

...once boasting 700 temples, bhubaneshwar still has a few temples of worth but serves more as a conduit to Puri and KOnark...a major portion of the Sun Temple has survived the ravages of time...beware of the guides who try to push the porn...they are a nuisance... stop the famous juggenath temple at puri...the traveler walked up the narrow lanes and arrived at one of the gates to the temple known as lion gate...a little way inside he is welcomed by a prohit...a temple pujari in saffron...

'aaiyay, aaiyay maharaj, swagatam, swagatam! bhagwan kay darshan kernay aa'aye haiN? yahaN apna naam pata likhyay aur hastaakchur ker deejiyay'

...and a pen and register is thrust in front of him...the traveler smiles recalling the earlier confrontation at ajmer...he smile some more...this time more pleas are hurled at him…and then finally

...'bhagwan kay naam pay bheee dakshina nahiN daiga, tu kaisa hindoo hay?'

...'aap say achcha'...the traveler says and moves away...some things do not change…no wonder the bearded one considered this sort of religion an opiate...there are set prices here too for some services...check this:

Gopal ballabha bhog (early morning bhog) - Rs. One Thousand
Sakal dhupa bhog (morning bhog) - Rs. Five Thousand
Madhyanha dhupa bhog (midday bhog) - Rs. Twenty Thousand
Sandhya dhupa bhog (evening bhog) - Rs. Ten Thousand
Badasinghar dhupa bhog (night bhog) - Rs. Three Thousand
Combined Five Raj-bhogs of the day - Rs. Thirty Thousand

...leaving the huge temple complex he comes out on the grand road...reminding him of a widened mall road…shops on either side...slowly being replaced by eight ten storey buildings with shops in the lower levels...the rest of the front along the road was like any other town...shops, stores, kiosks, vendors...

...he looked up and saw a sign for a terrace restaurant...went up and took a table by the grand road...there were no other customers at that time in the restaurant...from this height he could take in the temple entrance, the temples in the distance and the hub of the bazaar below...he took in the activities recording it on his vidcam...

...down the centuries this widened grand road is the path they follow once a year when the three murtis are taken to the other temple on chariots pulled by devotees...with all the attendant acrobats and dhols and chants and mantras...

...these festivities gave birth to a word in English...juggernaut

...the irony is apparent...major religions are juggernauting their followers unabashedly


Note: the traveler was being facetious when he informed the purohit and the gaddi-nashin that he was a better muslim/hindu...he is struggling and barely succeeding to be a better insaan


Blogger Unknown said...

How does one become a better insaan?

By not becoming a better hindu/muslim/jew/christian. :-)

August 31, 2005 3:53 PM  

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