3rd of May
I am posting this a bit late than the intended schedule that this is supposed to be posted. The main content has long been queued on my draft but...I honestly can’t find an ideal introduction for our guest blogger for today.
Probably because I don’t know him personally. I can’t stalk him either because he is NOT on Facebook. He has this “MENTAL NOTE” posted on his site:
“Though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run. Blue, resist the urge to use Facebook. You can do it. Good luck. Cats and dogs can be friends. So can cowboys and Indians. So can we.”
All I know is that it never fails to amused, amazed and puzzled me every time I read his blog posts. Sadly he deleted most of his (earlier) entries (so I also consider him a bit WEIRD for that). Yes he deprived me of my pleasurable habit of back reading so I can also call him CRUEL.
“WIT“ is the best word to describe his writings. I was suspecting an intelligent mind behind those posts and I was not surprised at all when I found that he is a University Professor!
When I ask him to be my guest blogger this was his reply…
“I'm not really into places of worship, Balut. The best I could do is write a post about why I wouldn't ever visit a particular church. In my view faith and buildings are not related. That's borderline rude, I know, so I have to pass. But.... here's what I could do for you:”
And so I was smiling from ear to ear when I found his email in my inbox one day. He really made my day. Isn’t he AWESOME!?
OMKARESHWAR, INDIA: JYOTIRLINGA SHRINE OF SHIVA
In Madhya Pradesh, a central province in India, there's a seemingly insignificant little island located in the sacred Narmada River called Mandhata Island which happens to have special religious importance for Hindus across the globe. So much for appearances. It is there that my then girlfriend and Bollywood princess Angie went to stay at her mother's nephew's house right before she made a life-altering decision, and it's through her eyes that I'm writing this post for my friend Balut.
Mandhata Island is better known as Omkareshwar, so named after the famous white Hindu temple that is situated on the island. Don't ask me to pronounce the word Omkareshwar, but Angie tells me the island oozes tranquility and spirituality. Which does not come as a surprise given that Omkareshwar is a place of pilgrimage where visitors are welcomed to spend the night at an ashram, that is, a spiritual hermitage or monastery. Just like in the temple itself, people come to an ashram to perform a prayer ritual known as puja (poojah, pooja), which is what Angie did. She also walked around the island, which took her only one hour and a half.
Omkareshwar, the temple itself (also known as the Shri Omkar Mandhata temple), is dedicated to the notable god Shiva. The reason why pilgrims come to this particular place in India is that it houses an actual jyotirlinga shrine, a sacred devotional object representing Shiva of which there are twelve in the entire country. Jyoti meaning 'radiance' and lingam meaning 'sign of Shiva,' a jyotirlinga shrine is said to be a place where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. People come from afar to kneel before said object to pray and offer mala (garland), phal (fruit) and prasaad (sweetened confection). When Angie came to visit the temple in February 2012, there weren't many visitors - that is to say, not many in the Indian sense of the word. Everything is relative.
The temple itself is white (if a bit smudged) and clearly visible from the river, reminiscent of a big beehive on top of a big square. There are two entrances, one on each side of the building. Once you're inside you'll notice the impressive high ceiling, entirely white too, with few decorative patterns that are so typical of Indian art. In contrast to many other temples, you can stay here for a couple of hours and speak with the priests.
Although I am not much of a believer in visiting holy shrines and religious buildings myself, the fact that Angie was connected to Omkareshwar in more than one way made me think hard about my own life and the direction I would want to be heading in. I came to the conclusion I wanted to marry her in spite of our huge religious differences. I picked her up from the airport on February 18, popped the question and luckily she said yes. Omkareshwar will forever be connected to me too. Even if I'm not planning on visiting it in person, it feels like I've already been there. All I need to do is close my eyes and watch by future bride walk along that river toward the big white temple.
After reading Blue's entry I am sure you will agree with me that he is also sooo SWEET and ROMANTIC!