I remember the first time I visited Golden Temple which was soon after my wedding. As fate would have it, there was a special ceremony and I couldn’t enter the Gurudwara because of a never-ending queue. I was baffled by how my husband looked all glum. I didn’t know he had the utmost faith and felt connected with Darbar Sahib. Even the Kara he wears is from the temple and was not just a piece of jewelry. He had then taken me to the Langar and had explained about the selflessness of volunteers and how it was one of the largest free kitchens in the world. But all was lost on this newlywed bride. I never knew anything about the Golden Temple then; never really understood the sanctity of this sacred place.
However, (five years down the lane) today was different.
It was around 8 pm when I walked through the narrow streets of Katra Jaimal Market near Golden Temple. I was a curious child and I needed the reassurance that I would be able to do the darshan at least this time. But I was told by street vendors and autowaalas that in no way was I going to make it to the Gurudwara. I was to expect a long queue especially since it was night and that there would be many pilgrims and tourists engulfing the holiness of the place. But I was determined. I had to get there and I was sure that I would be able to enter the Gurudwara this time around.
As I covered my head with a Phulkari dupatta, removed my stilettos and stepped through the foot bath, each naked foot defying social discrimination, I found myself chanting the Mool Mantar – the important composition contained within the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhs.
Ek Onkar (There is only One God)
Sat Naam (Eternal and True is His Name)
Karta Purakh (He is the Creator)
Nirbhau (Without Fear)
Nirvair (Without Hate)
Akaal Moorat (Immortal)
Ajooni (Free from Birth and Death)
GurParsad (Realized through the Grace of the Guru)
Jap (Meditate upon His Name)
Aad Sach (For He was True when time began)
Jugaad Sach (He has been True since ages)
Hai Bhi Sach (He is still True)
Nanak Hose Bhi Sach (and True He verily, shall be, O Nanak!)
I walked down the stairs under the clock tower and at the very first sight of Golden Temple at night, I was spellbound. It was the most visually stunning I had ever seen; the most beautiful place I had ever been to. I was truly mesmerized.
A sense of sheer bliss washed over me as I tried to comprehend why the temple is fondly referred to as the Golden Temple.
The gold dome and Gurudwara glistened at night and I instantly made a resolve- come what may, I am doing the Darshan tonight. I sat by the sacred Pool of Nectar that surrounds the Gurudwara and took in the magnanimity of it all. Bathed in beautiful yellow and blue lights, the Golden Temple stood there in all its glory. I instantly felt at peace and could feel the devotion in the air.
There is something so pure in the atmosphere of the Golden Temple that makes you feel calm and serene. It is like finding that tranquil part of yourself. Like soul awakening.
Golden Temple is surrounded by a lake on all three sides with a single bridge connecting across to the Sanctum Sanctorum.
As I took baby steps along the Parikrama Marble path, around the Sarovar to the Gurudwara Lachi Ber, I realized that there aren’t many pilgrims. “It could be a long queue“, I anticipated. But to my surprise, I found only about a hundred people in the queue. I deposited my camera in a hurry and dragged the equally astonished husband to queue on the bridge. Believe it or not, until that very second he was sure that we wouldn’t be able to do the darshan.
As I said, today was different. The line was moving faster while I listened to the Holy Book being read and the chant of musicians and religious leaders from inside the temple.
I was overwhelmed. Overjoyed. Ecstatic. Euphoric. And Humbled.
I don’t understand Gurmukhi (the Sikh script) and the only Gurbani I know is ‘Ik Onkar..’ which I was chanting throughout.
Beautifully adorned and decorated from floor to ceiling, religious leaders intoning from the Holy Book, it was a sight to behold. I was taken aback to find myself in tears. Yes, I am religious. I am spiritual. But this experience was something totally out of the world.
I believe that only when you get the calling from the divine do you get to visit his abode. And that was exactly what had happened this day. I returned to the hotel and looked forward to visiting the temple again the next day.
Visiting the Golden Temple at any time of the day is a memorable affair and the view in the morning is altogether different. The sparkling walls had changed its colors and had taken the beautiful morning glow. There are many more pilgrims offering their prayers and taking a dip in this Holy lake, Amrit Sarovar (Tank of Nectar) for they firmly believe ‘whosoever batheth in thy tank, is rid of his Sins‘.
I again walked along the same path and reached the Sanctum Santorum. This time though, I chose to sit by the Sarovar in prayers and meditation while the husband queued up. “We will head to Guru-ka-Langar once I get back“, he assured. Soaking in the impressive sight in front of me and listening to the mystical chants, I soon found myself drifting away, deep in thoughts.
‘I could live with this all eternity‘, my heart did a flipflop. It was truly at peace, happy and appeased. Seeking His blessings and praying for a Mannat to fulfill, I found myself saying, ‘I’m going to come back again. Soon’.
Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh.
Sri Harminder Sahib or Darbar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple is undoubtedly, the world’s Holiest religious site. Located in the beautiful city of Amritsar, Punjab, the temple is popular because it truly believes in the very essence of Sikhism – Anyone from Anywhere and Any Religion is welcome. Religion and faith have no bar.
… to be continued.
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This post was written in response to the Idea Prompt.
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