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2023 - The Year That Was

Places impact you for a variety of reasons. And the same place impacts different people in different ways. This is especially true when it comes to spiritual experiences, where every single person’s experience is unique. And personally, every spiritual experience is unique, the same person can have different deeply spiritual experiences at different places, at different times. This thought has emerged because of my own experiences over the years, but especially so this year, with different and unique experiences at various places I have visited recently. I began this year with a visit to Baroda (Vadodara) with friends. It was meant to be a relaxed trip, a touristy trip, with our sons. We enjoyed ourselves to the hilt, but the highlight of that trip was a visit to the Lakulisha temple at Pavagadh. It was the iconography of the temple that I connected with, and I spent a few hours simply lost in the details of the figures carved around the temple. There was an indefinable connect with

A pilgrimage to Kashi

Kashi Yatra- A pilgrimage to the holy city of Kashi, or Varanasi, as it is known today, is the dream of every devout Hindu.

There are many interpretations of the term ‘Kashi Yatra’. To some, it simply means a visit to the holy city to bathe in the holy Ganges, have darshan of Lord Vishwanath, and perform the sacred rites to one’s ancestors to satisfy them.

To most South Indians, the Kashi Yatra starts with a trip to Rameswaram, where one collects the sand at either Rameswaram, or more particularly, Dhanushkodi. This sand is then carried all the way to Kashi, or, if possible, the Triveni Sangam at Allahabad, and immersed at the confluence of the 3 holiest rivers- Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. From here, water is collected, and after performing all the rites and pujas at Kashi, carried back to Rameswaram, and used to perform Abhishekam to the Lord there.

For north Indians, the trip, for obvious geographical reasons, is the opposite. They start the Yatra at Kashi, and bring the holy water to Rameswaram, from where they take the sand back for immersion in the Ganga.

We are South Indians, hailing from Ramanathapuram, and have been fortunate enough to have visited the holy temple at Rameswaram a number of times. On one of our trips, my in-laws brought back the holy sand on which lord Rama would have stepped ages ago. They had kept the sand carefully for a number of years, hoping to make the trip to Kashi at least once in their lifetime, and satisfy our forefathers. Fortune has finally smiled on us, and we have just returned from a trip to Kashi.

Though we took the train to Varanasi, the first place we visited was Allahabad, where we made a Shiva lingam with the sand from Rameswaram, performed the appropriate pujas, and finally immersed it in the Triveni Sangam. We have returned with the holy water from the confluence, and are waiting for the next trip to our home town and Rameswaram, so that we can complete our Kashi Yatra successfully.

Kashi is such an ancient city, with a culture and history unparalleled by any other, that one article is not enough to describe it. There is so much to see and so many places and temples to visit, both in and around Kashi, that I am starting a new blog to do justice to it.
To visit my new blog, click here. It will takesome time for me to give all the details, (and believe me, there are many..........), so please do look for regular updates, both in this blog, as well as the new one.

Comments

  1. Hi Anu, my parents who are senior citizens plan to visit Kashi, Allahabad, Bodh Gaya etc. in January. Is the weather condition favorable for travel there? ould love to know your opinion.

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    Replies
    1. HI Aparna, it will be quite cold, so they will have to be prepared for the extreme weather. Bathing in the river might also be an issue, since the water will be cold as well. It is a call they will have to take.

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  2. Hi Madam. I have a question, Madam mentioned that the sand should be taken preferably from Dhanushkodi instead of Rameswaram. I've also read somewhere that before the 60's cyclone, agni theertham was oroginally in Danushkodi. May I know why Madam mentioned specifically Dhanushkodi. This information will be helpful for my research on Ramayana. Thanks Madam and sorry for the trouble.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello. Dhanushkodi is said to be the southernmost point at Rameshwaram, and considered one of the most sacred spots since this is where the bridge to Lanka was constructed from. Hence, this is where the sand is supposed to be taken from, as it is considered sacred. though Dhanushkodi itself was washed away, you can still take a jeep to a point.

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