Amritsar was in my bucket list for many years. To be specific since 2006 after watching the movie, Rang De Basanti. Merely the mention of this city paints a picture of Darbar Sahib, The Golden Temple in my mind. The prayer song “Ik Onkar” etched in my heart and I actually memorized it in no time. After getting married in a Punjabi family, it earned me a few brownie points as well. Finally, my wait ended in 2011 when I visited this religious site with my husband and parents in law.
We left from Chandigarh early in the morning on a road trip and it took us 5 hours to reach Amritsar. We decided to visit the temple first. After parking and taking our shoes at the first counter outside, we washed out feet and entered the Holy space. Also known by the name of Harmindar Sahib, which means “The Abode of God”, this is the Holiest pilgrimage of the Sikhs. But you would find people from all the religion and visiting this glorious place. Religion is no bar here.
The very first sight of Darbar Sahib was truly breathtaking. It was much more delightful than what I had seen in the movies and what I had imagined. It was totally in contrast with the busy and crowded lanes of the city. Tranquil and soothing. The white marble floor was sparkling clean. The freshness in the air was magical. Such positive vibes and the calm splendor of the gilded temple was remarkable. The serene water of the sacred pond was flowing in a placid atmosphere.
I was amazed to see the long queue of devotees. There was no pushing or pulling, no raised eyebrows to go inside the temple. Discipline prevailed and everyone was patiently waiting for their turn. I think it was the positivity of the place that was reflecting on everybody’s behavior.
I am not a very religious person. Though I am spiritual, I pray, I observe fasts but in my own way. I strongly feel religion is the most personal choice and it can not be generalized at all. There is a Supreme Power, I believe in HIM and HIS divinity. To me, it is all about the connection with HIM. And, you can feel the connection anywhere irrespective of the place. Holy or not. Pilgrimage or not.
But the sanctity of this place touched my heart and soul. I felt so peaceful, and powerful. I felt free. As I entered the temple, I could feel my wet eyes. Never before, I had felt anything like that. An indescribable experience it was. I felt an instant connection with HIM.
Another thing that caught my attention was how diligently the staff members were doing their duties and serving mankind. Happily, selflessly with a smile on their faces. As it was the lunch hour, so we were greeted by the sound of metallic utensils. Many men and women were busy washing up the plates, while many others were cooking.
A few were oiling the steaming hot pile of freshly cooked rotis (Indian bread) and others were kneading the flour for the next slot. A batch of women was peeling the onions and others were pouring the cooked food to be served in the steel buckets. I saw many children also helping in the chores. The Golden Temple feeds thousands of people daily and every morsel is cooked and served by the volunteers and the staff members too.
We took kada prasad of Halwa which was loaded with ghee and tasted heavenly. There is something in Gurudwara’s halwa. One can’t get enough of it. After darshan, we had the pleasure to enjoy the delicious langar also. We entered the langar hall where people were sitting barefoot, cross-legged in a row seated on a cloth mat. We joined them too. The whole hall was filled with the aroma of dal, veggies, and kheer.
Soon, many volunteers served us hot dal makhani, vegetable, rice, salad and rotis which they call as “Parsada Wahe Guru” (God’s offering). This was followed by a delectable kheer.
After finishing the langar, we sat near the shore and kept absorbing those vibes. Many devotees were taking a dip in the holy pond while many others were just sitting and praying. The sunset and sunrise at the temple are enchanting. In the night, it looks phenomenal when all lit up.
After spending a wonderful day, it was time for us to leave to explore the rest of the city so we took one last look at the resplendent temple and left for the other monuments. A memorable and spiritually rich experience it was.
In my next blog, I will take you to the lanes of Amritsar.
Also, read my Cruising experience in the backwaters of Kerala by clicking here