and a % of inspiration….jobs, relationships, writing. all of it seem to follow this magic formula. HARD WORK and a lil’ luck.
But boy, I never thought a pilgrimage would follow this formula too till my Tirupathi trip.
Unlike Journey this trip had nothing spiritual.
After much nagging and moaning from family I made a well-planned trip to Tirupathi with said family. Since everything was pre-arranged stupid me envisaged a nice, quick darshan and home ahoy in a day. Well, home ahoy in a day alright but crass commercialisation of religion did me in this time.
From the cursory security scans (thrice too), where the security personnel were too busy catching shut eye to the volunteers who kept pushing & shoving and yelling ‘Po-andi po-andi’ (Telegu for Please go, please go and NOT Kungfu-Panda spiel!!) to the maniac mob that just got nuttier & crazier as we neared the sanctum sanctorum it was just a frustrating, unreligious, unspiritual experience.
Frustration, hmm no, ANGER was the main emotion I went through during the 14 hours of being in Tirupathi. Watching pilgrims, who hadn’t purchased the pricey tickets nor had pricey connections, stand endlessly, patiently waiting for their turn to enter the temple gates made me wonder if this was what the Good LORD meant by seeking salvation. Well-rounded constables with fat paws waiting to be greased, poojaris who snuck you prasadam if you spoke their lingo & looked the part of the upper-caste well-loaded brahmin, frenzied devotees who were oblivious to old, helpless people or young, helpless kids and all that the National Geographic recommends as Indi-ya!! was there to shock you in its putrefied glory.
As we neared the deity I was seething with rage at what had become a circus in the name of God. The 20 second glimpse (if you are lucky that is) of the deity made me wonder if I had lost my senses for putting up with torture (humid, hot weather; people with no semblance of sanity or civility; stench) and as I wound my way out carried forth by the mass of humanity (Yes, it hits you we are a BILLION plus population) the money-spinning opera that is Tirupathi hits me between the eyes.
The hundi, where a zillion devotees offer their life earnings to seek blessings from the Lord, to seek indemnity for all earthly crimes committed, to seek peace from living hell or whatever else they go for, breaks open and security personnel cordon the area as a new hundi replaces it.
Family and yours truly had carried their life savings as well to offer to the Good Lord for all the reasons mentioned above.
We went to throw in our savings and purge our sins minus the 93-old grandpa, who sensibly said he will sit at the steps of the minion deities. (This made me realise why he is wiser than I ever will be).
The sun scorched down and it was the INDIAN summer. We collectively scalded our feets and roasted our flesh as we went around the temple premises. Collecting the laddus was passably better so long as you were not avaricious and wanted more of those sweet-smelling laddus. Oh, if you did than you are more a braveheart than I was because you stood in a serpentine line that never ends. Well, I didn’t. I hurried my harried family and headed back home.
Was it worth it?
My grandpa had a blissful smile and my mum slept with the mother of all migraines.
So, perhaps it was….
As for me, I will commit all the earthly sins I want to because I know there is a purgatory ready like 2-minute noodles!!
P.S: The shrine of Lord Balaji is in Tirumala and the town is Tirupathi. For sake of familiarity I have referred to the pilgrimage centre as Tirupathi throughout this post.