To sít amongst the thousands of Indians that journey to Haridwar to witness the Ganga aarti ceremony at Hari-ki-Pawri ghat is a privilege indeed. Even more so when you realise that you are one of an extremely small number of Westerners, (I counted around half a dozen others amongst the crowds), and when it is your first sighting of that holiest of rivers, the Ganges. To be gathered together in one place with Sadhus, holy men, pilgrims, beggars and Hindu’s from throughout India is to be part of a far greater humanity.
But sometimes it is the individual stories that stand out more, and leave more questions than answers…
To see a couple standing barefoot, digging into the slate grey river silts of the Ganges, and with their bare hands sifting through the loosened clods begs the question “why”? And those that have read this blog for any length of time will know by now that I’ll try and ask the question… “What are you looking for?”Which needed the help of another passer by who could speak Hindi and English. [I’ve discovered that despite sharing the same alphabet, there isn’t sufficient crossover between the two languages to make myself understood beyond simple requests of one or two words]
The answer? Looking for coins thrown into the river by pilgrims to supplement an already meagre income. The notion of travelling to India to ‘find oneself’ can sometimes seem a little trite when set against the need by many to find something a little more tangible….