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Ladakh Diaries Part 9: Lamayuru

Lamayuru is one of the most ancient monasteries in Ladakh, the oldest surviving structure dating to the 11 th century CE. What makes this monastery particularly fascinating, is its location, amidst what is today called the “moonscape”, for the spectacular natural rock formations, which truly are “out of the world”! As per legend , there once existed a huge lake in this area, populated only by the Nagas (serpents). It was prophesized that there would be a great monastery built here. This prophecy came true when the great acharya Naropa (756-1041 CE) arrived. He emptied the lake, meditated for many years inside a cave, and built the first monastery here. The present structure is a new one, built around the cave where Acharya Naropa is said to have meditated. This legend seems to fit well with the geological formations seen in the area, which suggest this was a paleo-lake, which disappeared around 1000 years ago. Lamayuru is about 130 km from Leh , and the Indus River flows along th

Farewell to Ganesha...

After 10 days of celebrations, its time to bid farewell to the Lord, for this year.... All around us, we can hear the shouts of "Ganpati Bappa Morya! Pudchya Varshi Laukar Yaa!" (Long Live Ganesha! Come early next year!) It is indeed a fond farewell, as crowds gather to see Him off. When I was a kid, I remember going to see the immersion at the lake in Thane, where we could see the big Ganeshas coming from all over the city. Today, the TV has taken over, and we are busy seeing the huge idols on their way to either Girgaum or Dadar Chaowpatty, or Juhu Beach! Much easier and more comfortable in all ways, especially on the ears. 

However, it is time for our colony Ganesha to be on his way, and we can hear the crowds from way off. He tours the entire colony, giving each one of us the chance to bid him goodbye. The whole building gathers at the gates, from kids to their grandparents...... and here He is, at last.....

Here are the flag bearers - heralding His advent......


...and lighting firecrackers to make sure everyone knows He is on His way!


They are followed by the drummers.... whether they are creating a ruckus or making music, is something that depends on your mood... but the beats make you sway, and make you wish to join them!


And finally, the decorated truck bearing Him arrives.....


...giving us a final look at Him, a chance to bid goodbye......


...just for the year.... For we know He will be back again, next year!!!

As I return home, back to the TV and my computer, dissociating myself from the crowds, the sounds and the chaos, I wonder... Do I really want to dissociate myself like this? Do I really want to be peaceful within the confines of my home? There is something within me that wants to go out into the crowd, join them.........

I know I will not, the reasons being many, most of them related to the pollution they cause and the mess they leave behind for others to clean, but which no one bothers about..... and of course, the fact that I hate crowds and tend to avoid them whenever possible.... But I wish it was different, and wish I could join the celebration too..without any twinges of conscience.... Will such a time ever come? I wonder.... The Lord is leaving, but he is leaving me with many, many questions.......

This has been an introspective post, not one which I planned to write..... But the words are down, and I didn't wish to change them.... So I have left them as they came... straight from the heart.... However, among all this introspection are some small twinges of satisfaction - firstly, that this year, for the very first time, I tried and managed to make a clay idol by myself.... one small step towards a betterment of the festival for me.... and secondly, I have managed to write one post everyday for the whole period of the festival! The first time I have managed to do this!! So there has been much to celebrate this year...

Comments

  1. When Ganesha leaves suddenly there's emptiness. After 10 days of celebration it is as if there is a vacuum.

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  2. although there are so many celebrations.. this is the sad part!! when the party ends..

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  3. But Anu don't you think we need a better way to say farewell to Ganesha rather than using the water bodies?

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  4. I want to be in Bombay for this atleast once!! but on the other hand, i wonder if God would want us to create so much noise and tamasha in the pretext of dunking Him in the water/ocean....!!

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  5. Hey anu! I came here searching for Golu ideas. Your posts of last years Golu are brilliant. Infact, I got a wonderful idea after going through them.... Then I started reading your other posts. And I found you so much like minded. I can relate to all your posts. Even I hate this pollution we are causing in the name of Ganesa. No wonder its flood and mayhem everywhere.

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  6. @Chitra: so true.... it feels like a family member has just left!

    @Patty: absolutely! thank god there are more festivals to look forward to...

    @Mridula: yes, we can, but then there is a sort of finality and acceptance when we immerse the idol... and then again, in the days when they started this, there were only clay idols, no pop.. so things were better. i remember hearing that my great grandfather used to make the clay idol with his own hands and then after the puja, he used to immerse it in a bucket of water, which was then poured out into the garden.. probably the best solution... at least there is more awareness now.. and this year i have heard that there were a few huge idols also made of clay or papier mache... definitely a better idea..

    @Aarti: you should be here at least once. its indeed a wonderful festival here... as to the tamasha, this is probably the only festival that most of these people hold so dear.. for them, it is truly a celebration, when the god visits them for 10 whole days... no wonder they make so much of it!

    @Joy: thanks a lot!

    @WHatsIn aA name: welcome to my blog.... i shall look forward to seeing what you make for navaratri....yes, unfortunately i too agree with you... we are paying for all the mayhem we cause... and festivals are just one part of it...

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