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Monday, September 14, 2009

One with nature -

Tapan Susheel
On a pilgrimage to Badrinath in the Garhwal Himalayas, I once saw an old man in tatters, struggling to squeeze through the milling throng to surge ahead as the doors to the shrine were opened at dawn. On coming face to face with the deity in the sanctum sanctorum, he folded his hands in a sort of thanksgiving, totally oblivious to the difficulties he had faced to reach there.
Muttering a silent prayer, I could see tears roll down his cheeks, and a glow on his face. I cannot fully describe his sense of joy and contentment, but it made me realise the importance of pilgrimage.
Pilgrimages serve an important purpose in our lives, they fulfill a vital need.
For the helpless poor as well as the rudderless rich, they provide a one-stop solution to all their spiritual cravings.
Pilgrimages detoxify your distressed souls. They also play an important role in promoting the prosperity of the community for they support the entire economy of the area around the shrine.
The rich may prefer to go to resorts to unwind, but going by the sheer volume of business they generate, they come nowhere near pilgrim towns. At many pilgrim places, food and stay is either free or highly subsidised. And thanks to bands of volunteers, everything is so well-organised that even first- time visitors feel at home among strangers.
Christians make a beeline to the eternal city of Jerusalem. Former Andhra chief minister Y S Rajashekhar Reddy, who died in a chopper crash recently, had visited Bethlehem, birth place of Jesus Christ, soon after his electoral victory a few months ago. Most Muslims aspire to go on a Haj pilgrimage to Mecca-Medina, at least once in a lifetime. So do Buddhists cherish a trip to Saranth, Bodhgaya or Lumbini, while for Sikhs Amritsar is a must destination. And for Hindus, it can be Mathura, Kashi, Amarnath or KailashMansarovar.
They all get spiritually rejuvenated and get inspiration for getting closer to god and nature. In other words, they come out better human beings.
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