In the early morning today, while returning to Baghdad, I found live performance of Indian classical music at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any music lover stopping for a while to enjoy the music. I was alone there for sometime!
After the first day of chemotherapy, my mother-in-law fell very sick. She was complaining of severe heartache. The doctor treating her for cancer removed the chemotherapy and continued with some other injections. After 3 days, she was referred to a heart hospital in Allahabad. The doctor there found that she was suffering from recurring angina. She was kept on ICU for her intensive treatment.
It seems that her condition is very serious. Jaya is crying in private whenever I call her. Her father, brothers were all in grim mood. So, I decided to pay a visit to them and to see my mother-in-law.
I left Baghdad yesterday morning for Allahabad. Babai also wanted to see her granny. So, we made a joint programme that would meet at Varanasi airport and from there, we will there we will travel to Allahabad in a cab.
After 6 days of treatment there, the heart specialist referred her back to Kamla Nehru Memorial Hospital, which is also housing the Regional Cancer Center. My mother-in-law was shifted to Kamla Nehru Memorial Hospital in the morning today.
I reached Varanasi airport at around 3 pm via Delhi and Abu Dhabi, while Babai arrived there at around 5 pm.
Then we proceeded for Allahabad. We decided to go straight to the hospital. Due to Ram Navami celebrations today, we reached Allahabad at 9 pm. It’s a long 36 hour journey for me and I was yet to reach home!
My mother-in-law started crying as she saw her. She was very grim and sad. Babai & I talked to her for quite some time and pepped her up. She actually lost all hopes as she knew that she’s suffering from cancer, which is at 4th stage.
Thank God, I could manage to infuse confidence and faith in her that she can survive… and stay well as long as she is destined to live on this earth.
We returned home at 11 pm after Jaya’s elder brother came to the hospital. It’s a long journey for me and I am dead tired.
My mother has come to see me on the occasion of Holi. In this holy day of Holi, we decided to go for pilgrimage to Chardham in Namchi, which is at a distance of circa 75 km from Gangtok. Namchi is the headquarters of the South Sikkim district. Namchi means Sky (Nam) High (Chi) in Bhutia. Namchi is situated at an altitude of 1,675 m (5,500 feet) above mean sea level.
We hired a cab and started from our hotel soon after our breakfast. We had tea on the way near a beautiful tea garden.
Char Dham is a popular pilgrimage destination of Sikkim, which also has some interesting history connected to it. The principle deity here is Lord Shiva. It is believed that during the Kurukshetra war between the Kauravas and Pandavas, this place was where Arjuna worshipped Lord Shiva. It is also believed that Lord Shiva, pleased with Arjuna, appeared before him as a hunter and blessed him which helped Pandavas in winning the war.
In Hindu mythology, it is believed that Lord Shiva, after losing Sati in Agnikund, had gone into seclusion and became a hunter in the forests of Sikkim. There is also a famous Kirateshwar Mahadev Temple at Legship, in West Sikkim along the banks of River Rangeet.
Chardham is a unique pilgrim centre with a 108 feet tall statue of Lord Shiva , this pilgrim centre also has replicas of the twelve Jyotirlingas to offer one platform for Shiva devotees. The four most revered Dhams of the Hindus – Jagannath, Dwarika, Rameshawaram, Badrinath have been replicated in this fantastic complex to benefit the devotees visiting this place.
The temple complex is divided into 4 parts – the statue of Lord Shiva along with 12 jyothirlingas, four dhams, a Sai Baba Mandir and the Kirateshwar Statue besides the Nandi bull.
The world’s largest statue (~118 feet) of the Buddhist Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, the patron saint of Sikkim, is situated on the Samdruptse hill, opposite Namchi. It is also said that the Samdruptse hill is actually a Dormant Volcano. Myths say that the buddhist monks have been going on top of the hill and offering prayers to the volcano to keep it calm.
After visiting the temples, we returned back to Gangtok. It’s a nice trip and we enjoyed a lot.
My mother is continuing to be quite sick for more than a fortnight. She is having severe infections and swellings on her tongue and throat. The doctor advised her biopsy also but it could not be undertaken due to infections.
The doctor has got some blood tests done, but the reports didn’t indicate any serious anomaly. Now, on his advice, last week she had given her saliva for pathological culture. The result is expected tomorrow.
We are all very much worried for her. Sometimes she cannot speak well. She is now on semi-liquid diet. Seeing my anxiety for her, my husband booked me on a train for Allahabad, so that I can see my mother and be with her to comfort her as much as I can. Now, I am on the train eagerly waiting for it to reach Allahabad in the early hours of the morning.
I hope that the she is suffering only from infections and the culture indicates the right solution to her infections. I pray for her speedy recovery and comfort. May the God be with her!
Maha Kumbh mela is considered as the biggest festival of Hindus in the entire world. This was amply proved by observing a sea of more than 30 million Hindu devotees gathered at the confluence of 3 rivers (Triveni Sangam) at Allahabad (Prayagraj) on 10 February. The tithi (Auspicious day) of Mauni Amavasya began from 3.15 p.m. on 9 February. Since then, a sea of devotees had gathered on the 22 ghats (banks) of river Ganga and confluence to take a Holy bath.
Mauni Amavasya is considered the holiest of the 56-day festival. Millions of Hindu holy men and pilgrims descend at the Kumbh mela site for a bracing plunge in Ganges to what they feel will wash away sins; many of them walked miles before they reached the river bank.
According to ancient religious scriptures, Mauni Amavasya is the day on which Manu sage appeared in this world, millions of years ago. It is believed to be the day when the universe was created. On this day, the Sun and the Moon enters into the Capricorn sign.
Practising austerities is believed to purify an individual’s existence and observing the vow of silence is apparently the simplest way to do so.
The day holds extreme religious importance and taking bath on this day in the holy waters is deemed significant and auspicious.
An auspicious coincidence occurring after 147 years
On this Mauni Amavasya, the planets Shani (Saturn) and Rahu have come together. This is a rare occurrence and happened after the lapse of 147 years. During this period, the sun and the moon will travel together in their orbit. It last happened in 1865. Therefore, this period is considered as very beneficial for taking a bath, donation, and shraddha (Special rituals performed for the departed ancestors). This special occasion also caused the rush of devotees in an increased proportion.
I along with my wife, Jaya and son, Babai have come to Allahabad for taking bath in river Ganga on the auspicious occasion of Mauni Amabasya. We reached Allahabad by train via Kolkata on 6 February. It was Kumbh flavor everywhere – from Howrah station to the train journey. There were some women singing kirtans. Jaya also joined them briefly.
Our Guruji also reached Allahabad on the nights of 8 February from Varanasi for the bath with us. He had to walk around 16kms to reach our home due to stoppage of traffic in the city. In fact, we were privileged to have bath with our Guruji. We started our journey for the bath from the home of Jaya’s parents at 11.30am of 9 February. We joined the sea of humanity walking slowly towards the Triveni sangam. We reached the ghat at around 2.30am of 10 February. At first, Jaya, Boudi, Guttu and I took our dips with Guruji, while Babai & Prasanta was guarding the clothes. Then Guruji and I took them to the ghat for their bath. It was quite a cold night with temperature dropping below 8°C. But the sheer excitement of the event did not make us feel that the night and the water were so cold! We jumped into the river Ganga in search of “Amrit” at the Amrit Muhurt of Mauni Amabasya 10 February 2013.
We walked back to home with huge mass of people around on every road and corner. People were coming in and moving out. The police was doing a good job there and I found them very polite, to my surprise! We reached home at around 5am.
It was a really out of the world, divine experience. It can just be experienced and not be defined by any logic or knowledge based explanation. Clearly, the world’s biggest religious gathering happens when faith meets the collective.
Har Har Gangay! Har Har Mahadev!
We have been planning for attending the Maha Kumbh Mela this year. It’s of great religious importance for the Hindus. Tens of millions of people from India and abroad attends this festival. The Maha Kumbh festival is held at Triveni Sangam, in Allahabad. It’s the confluence of three great rivers of India – Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati.
Luckily my 3rd semester finished on 31 January followed by 2-week holidays before commencement of the 4th semester. Dad also managed to get his 2-week holidays during the same period. Dad had planned and booked the journey more than 2 months before, in anticipation. It’s needed as there is a huge rush for the mela.
To avoid any travail during travel, Dad booked the tickets via Kolkata. We left Ranchi for Kolkata on 5 February by air and then for Allahabad by Poorva Express on the morning of 6 February 2013.
We were booked in AC First class coach. We arrived at Howrah station in the morning at around 7am. There was quite a rush for people boarding the train. Also, there was a huge queue of people for boarding the general compartments as they did not manage to get the reservation.
The train left on schedule. We took our break fasts that we carried with us. Also we ordered some light snacks from Railway pantry car. Poorva Express is one of the prestigious trains in India and is hence well served by pantry car. We were getting regular supply of drinks and foods inside the coach.
The train was only stopping at important stations on the way. It was running on schedule. I bought a small Ludo game at Howrah railway station. We also played a few Ludo games to pass the time on the train.
In another coach nearby some women were signing kirtans and bhajans. They were also going to Allahabad for Kumbh mela. Mom also joined them briefly. We were all in holy kumbh mood!
The train reached Allahabad station with a small delay. My grandpa and cousin were at the platform to receive us.
I am coming to home in Ranchi on holidays from Baghdad. It was just like any other previous journey up to Delhi. I avoid reaching Delhi from 15 December to 15 January, as Delhi remains under thick fog blankets, during this time. But such thick fogs are very rare during this time.
As we were approaching Delhi while descend, the captain of the Etihad flight informed us of the fog/mist over Delhi sky and also said that the visibility was around 300m. When I came out of the airport at around 3.40am, the fog was quite thick. The cabbie also told me that it’s so foggy after more than 10 days and all these days were quite clear and sunny. May be these fogs came down to greet me!
But, the situation deteriorated as the dawn approached and the visibility worsen to less than 50m in the morning compelling the delay/cancellation of departures from Delhi airport and many international flights were diverted to Mumbai.
When I woke up after my nap, I found an email from Air India. They sent a new revised e-ticket with revised timing for the delayed departure. The new timing is 3.50pm! This thick fog and flight delays/cancellation/diversions are also headlines on the national news on TV channels.
It’s now reported in the news that flights have resumed at Delhi and I sincerely hope that there is no further delay. This last moment of unscheduled delay is killing. After an almost whole day-night journey, I am feeling too tired and sleepy. I just can’t wait to reach my home. It will be almost 33 hours from the time I left for airport in Baghdad and I would reach home in Ranchi. Ufff!
I am so near to my home, yet so far!
After wonderful days of togetherness for the last 9 days, the last day has come for my holidays. Also, today is the day we are leaving Allahabad. Jaya is feeling very sad, of course as she has to take leave of her parents. It is a very sad environment at the house in the morning, with Jaya, Maa and Boudi crying.
Jaya, Babai & I are going to New Delhi today by Air India flight from Allahabad. I will leave for Baghdad at very small hours tomorrow and they will leave in the morning for Gangtok. Babai’s classes have started. Jaya is also going with Babai to see him off and will stay there for two days.
Babai needs to buy a few things for his hostel requirements, which Jaya & Babai will buy in Gangtok.
Our flight for New Delhi was scheduled at 2.35pm. It will go to New Delhi via Kanpur. Baba came to the airport to see us off. Dada could not come as Guttu was to participate in a song competition representing his school.
It’s a small plane – ATR. We reached New Delhi at around 5pm. We had coffee and light snacks at IGIA, New Delhi and then proceeded for the hotel – The Metropolitan.
After checking in the hotel, we had some tea and then went for a walk to a Kali temple nearby. It’s a very old Kali temple in New Delhi. Then we walked down to Connaught Place. Babai bought some gadgets at Palika Bazar.
Then we went to Dunkin Donuts for some donuts. Then we went to KFC for fiery grilled chickens and slush.
We completed our dinner at McDonalds with burgers. After that we walked down to our hotel.
It’s now time to part. The worst part of the trip has come. I will leave for airport shortly with the hope of getting back with Jaya and Babai again.