don’t know if I have mentioned this here before that I have an aversion towards long weekends. I do not mean the usual excuses which I have heard from others, about husband being at home or children being demanding or loads of cooking or maids taking leave. I do not like going to hotels and staying for long weekends in Mahableshwar, Matheran, Lonavla, Alibaug type of places. I do not have a bungalow in any of these places and may be that is why I am not inspired to go. I can’t imagine the traffic, the hotel rooms having the rainy musty smell and the Bambaiyya tasting sweet food. Basically, I don’t want to see the exodus of Mumbai people, when I go on a holiday. I also strongly believe Maharashtra hardly has any good hotels to stay or may be I do not have the exploring streak in me.
This long weekend I chose to go walking to Siddhi Vinayak temple on all three days. Siddhi Vinayak temple is a very auspicious place. Most tourists coming to Mumbai will want to go there for ‘Darshan’. It is in the heart of the city in Prabhadevi. It is a 25 min leisurely walk from home. People walk to this temple on Tuesdays from really far off suburbs of Mumbai. I keep thinking, the temple is so close that I can go any time. The result is, I rarely go to Siddhi Vinayak. The place invites lot of celebrities too. This temple has expanded over the years and has built office space above it. There is no art or aesthetics to the design which most temples have. It was dark, muggy and needed artificial lighting even during the day.
People thought I have taken a ‘Mannat’ and hence am going on three consecutive days to the temple. ”Mannat’ is a prayer for a desired result. I shall do whatever I have promised if my dream turns into reality. I do not know if there is a better word for it. In Gujarati, we said “Maanta lidhi chhe’ which means ‘ I have taken a mannat’. I make a promise to myself and to my Ish or God that I will say prayers or fast or give up something dear to me like sweets or alcohol and do some ‘Tapasya’ or penance. At home, Mom used to take Mannat and say she will light five diyas for Jalaram Bapa. The beauty of this or Hinduism is that it is always between you and your God or rather only within you. God is your outer form or inner form whichever way you want to believe. Form or formless, idol or universe, temple at home or the temple within, Ekaant (alone) or Satsang (pray with people), fasting or eating, giving up or taking on, adding or subtracting, discipline or abstinence, Daan ( charity) or Karm yog and the list of combinations is endless. ‘Mannat’ also means we take the required actions to get the desired results and we know we have a partner in God.
Yesterday morning, I woke up early, which in itself was inspiring, on a holiday. Three miracles happened in a series. My diamond necklace broke and I noticed it as I was combing my hair. So glad it broke at home and in front of the mirror. I just picked it from my neck and put it in the cupboard. I am totally grateful that it happened at home and not somewhere outside where I may not even have realised it.
It started drizzling as soon as I left home, I was tempted to pray for it to stop as I was not carrying an umbrella. I thought if all of us send this energy to stop rain, what will happen to our farmers battling drought for years. I prayed for whatever was appropriate. The temple is now all opened up. All the area which they have encroached, is cleaned up. The plastic transparent roof sheets allow the sunlight to come in and we can see the greenery of rain washed trees through it. The natural ventilation is back as all the roof covering, the dark plastic sheets all have been blocking every nook and cranny have been removed. The cleanliness of the floor is showing results as the white marble shines through. Even the table in front of the idol is cleaned every five minutes. The garlands are sent out of the Garbha Griha very fast in a bamboo basket in an orderly manner. The authorities have really bucked up and it is a joy to see the physical changes.
I got two ‘Laddus’ as “Prasaad” and I wanted to get it home for my family. I did not have a paper to wrap it in and did not want to ask a flower shop vendor for a plastic bag. Try as I might but am not able to eliminate plastic from my life. The shoes had to be worn and I found a bench to sit on. A clean wooden white painted bench with a back rest. With ‘laddus’ in one hand and shoes in another, I sat gingerly on the bench. Right next to me on the bench was a small little ‘mithaai ka dibba’ (sweets box). I opened it, it was a clean new box. I simply couldn’t believe it. I kept the Prasaad in the box, wore my shoes and walked back home. The smile came along with me.