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The Golden Calm

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A wise man once said that religion unites people a saying so true that it evokes mixed emotions in different people while inspiring the others to visit the Golden Temple, an epitome or the “final frontier” for people who believe in this religion. Faith can move mountains and many a battles have been won not by waging a war with guns or knives but by the sheer power of faith and believing in oneself. This very faith inspired us to make this scared journey to the city of Amritsar, located, 450 km from the national capital New Delhi.

It was 2:30 AM in the morning, when my wife and I took the shuttle bus from the Hyatt Hotel, the rest of the passengers were in a religious mood, and there was a sense of calmness, sanctity even before we reached the temple. As the bus wound its way through the generally empty streets, history unfolded before our eyes, this historical city had seen it all, from invasions to the brutality of the British, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre to the Operation Blue Star, maybe that’s the reason why the people of the city have such a big heart and have learnt to forgive, forget and embrace the thousands of tourists from all walks of life who come to pay their respects and to reinforce their faith in their God. A poignant moment which remains etched in our minds was when we saw the Korean Ambassador with his entire family, dressed up appropriately to relieve their beliefs. The city has seen such a sea of change that the entrance to the Jallianwala Bagh is now a derelict doorway, which anyone could just pass by without noticing, unless told so by a tourist guide, what lay beyond those doors, was the turning point in the history of the British Raj.

Built in the midst of a huge pond which sparkles with the reflection of the gold structure. There are four gateways that reach the place where the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh Holy Scripture) is housed.
Surrounding the pond are two huge clock towers, atop one of which is a museum narrating the history of the Sikhs. Adjacent to the clock tower is a building which provides free food to the thousands of pilgrims that throng the place every day. On festivals and special days, over 1,00,000 devotees partake of the ‘langar’ (community kitchen).
The sanctum sanctorum is a two-storeyed marble structure built on a 67-square foot platform with gold leaf adorning the outer walls of the structure and the inside also lined up with pure gold. Like any other spiritual place the Golden Temple too has a history. The shrine was desecrated in 1757 following Ahmed Shah Abdali’s invasion.

As we completed the formalities of removing our footwear and covering our heads, we slowly wound our way towards the entrance of the temple, we trod softly, bare-foot, heads covered, in the rosy dawn light, with hundreds of others, up the cool white marble steps. When we crested the top of the stairs, we had our first memorable view of the lovely 16th century Sri Harmandir Sahib.

It took my breath away.

“Heaven can wait,” I murmured to myself, awe-struck, as we gazed in wonder at the fairy-tale-pretty shrine, shimmering like a golden swan among a flock of shining white ones, in the midst of the serene lake, the Amrit Sarovar.

The glow of the gold was like a beacon of light, rising above the mundane infrastructures that lay around the temple. Even though there were thousands of people moving in a disciplined fashion, enchanting, eyes closed, each with a wish, a prayer, a hope that “will come true”. Very often it’s said that when you see a shooting star, make a wish it will come true but here stood the biggest, brightest of the stars and I knew that all my wishes would come true, all I had to do was keep the faith.

As the holy men “allowed” our group of a hundred devotees inside Durbar Sahib, tears filled my eyes, it was the most soul touching experiences in my life. Even though there were thousands of people around me, I felt alone with myself, there was a definite sense of calm, a sense of purity, as if a giant hand swept over my head, calming me, I was perplexed by the sheer beauty of the inner shrine, there were HD cameras all over beaming the proceeding all around the world, rich or poor were showering their offerings. I had spent just 30 seconds inside since we were asked to move to accommodate the huge crowd building up outside, a wait of an hour to enter translated to half a minute of a journey which left me humbled, calmed and left me with an experience which was truly moving, I think I felt and experienced God, yes he does exist.

Even though this city may come across to many as messy, disorganized and noisy but amazingly the Golden Temple is a soul calming experience, it is the very reason that we continue to live,succed and remain sane ,I guess it also the main reason why this religion believes in giving back to the society, a true act of God.

 

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