My visit to a place of silver-linings

The day was so random and spontaneous. I woke up to a warning to get ready asap, by my sister around 11 in the morning. I mean I went to bed with no such plans last night. Anyway, we had to go out for some follow-up, might as well visit the ISKCON temple later, we planned. Which by the way we had been planning for months now.

It was a long day even tho I spent most of the morning sleeping, and it was random so much so that we got tattooed of all things. We ran passed by this little tattoo studio in CP and came back after parking the car. And once again, we canceled on going to Iskcon, this time because of the heat and the unplanned time spent in that little studio. Anyway, it was worth the time and we are definitely going to plan Isckon again.

But the day’s highlight was that we ended up in Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. We were any way at CP and this time we ran passed by Bangla Sahib while looking for someplace to eat. I hadn’t been there before and had no idea we have another option nearby to follow through the mood and the outfit of the day. And besides I had thought of visiting this place many times, after watching Instagram reels. So we had our meal, did a little shopping and came back to this place. Although this might sound a bit exaggerated but once we were in, the meaning of the entire day changed, as before that, it was supposed to be my-first-tattoo day.

It was one of those days when everything before and after just collapses into a single moment, and that moment is all that remains of the day.

The feeling was surreal, and as much as I wanted to hold onto that feeling, I knew these things don’t work like that. So, with this quick realization, I avoided the frustration of clinging to experiences. I tried to come back to the moment and remain present throughout the rest of our time there.

I have been trying to remember the feeling since I came back, I don’t know why exactly. Although I am not able to. What I do remember is the colors in the sky while we were passing through the gallery which leads to the Diwan Hall (the main prayer hall). I remember the grand chandelier and how wonderful the whole ensemble looked. Imagine gold, a lot of gold, emerald, pearls, and diamonds shining, all together in a grand mosaic, that’s the visual feel. It looked grand, and not just because of the huge chandelier, but because of the symmetry and the space. The space made it all work together, filled with cool air and a sort of pleasant yet mild fragrance. It wasn’t crowded as well, just enough people sitting in complete silence, like grounded by serenity. The sound of Ardas was a soothing break from those long hours of our exhausted Spotify playlists.

It’s not like I’ve never been to a gurdwara before, I’ve been to The Golden Temple twice, the first time I was around eight, and the second time (this January). The first time I was a kid and the second time I was overwhelmed by the crowd. I mean I spent almost 2 hours in an airtight row of people, lots of people. Not to say it was a bad experience, but it felt like just another visit to a place.

Honestly, I can never understand how people manage to focus and pray surrounded by all that crowd and the noise, and almost all of the places of worship in India fit that description. Maybe it’s my overthinking, but I could never get myself to feel anything but rush. And at places where there were close to no people at all, I would have been distracted with all sorts of thoughts about its history or architecture. You know, now I get it. The reason I didn’t feel this good at any of the religious places before, is that all of these times, either the place was overly crowded or my mind was. This time it was the balance.

I think I was very well aware of the idea, that you can never find that serenity or whatever you’re looking for, anywhere in the world, if there is chaos inside you. But it is recently that I have kind of started this practice to find a balance within myself, or at least to get out of my head with meditation or journaling, before going to places like that. To kind of create some space in my head to let the positive energies in.

Anyway, I prayed and sat in the prayer hall for some time while reading the LCDs to make sense of the words of Ardas. I must say, it was pure poetry of a high form. While reading it, I still wasn’t unaware of the beauty around me, and by the beauty, I mean everything, the perfect temperature inside the hall, low golden fans with antique design, the sound, the emerald gold embellished sheet over the Palki of Guru Granth Sahib, the people praying and meditating beside me(maintaining a perfect distance), and of course my little niece dancing around to the Ardas, in her white frock and saffron scarf.

To summarise the whole experience, I felt at peace after a long time.

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, CP Delhi

After those long peaceful minutes, we went out of the exit door on the right side, which faces the holy pond or Sarovar, and trust me the day couldn’t get any better. I came out to see the silver lining in the sky above the sarovar in front us. This meant a lot of things for me at that time, you know, right place right time. But I just tried to focus on the aesthetics and the moment and clicked this photo.

The last time I went to a religious place, I wrote about being distracted by the aesthetics of those places, which might not be all true today.

Laxmi Narayan Temple, Chamba, Himachal

“People like me who are distracted by beauty might find it a little hard to stick to spirituality or religion at places like this, or maybe… finding beauty at all cost, that’s our religion.”

Now I think that beauty can actually connect you to spirituality or religion at times. I mean I could feel it, the reason I was so involved in the moments there, was how my mind was filled with all that was in front of me. I could practically feel the changes in my body, now you might think what are you, a saint? – But in my defense, I had this major headache caused by motion sickness when I entered the place. The kind of headache that I always bring home and won’t let me sleep or eat and all I’d know is the weird smell of the vehicle which won’t leave my head until the next morning.

Looking back I realized that as we made our way in, the headache kind of took a back seat in my head like it was there, but I couldn’t care less (believe me it was scary a few minutes ago, and no I do not have a migraine).

Now I’m not saying that some micro miracle happened. The headache was reduced to almost nothing because something bigger occupied my mind by then and held all of my attention. So yeah we can say I just got distracted by the place or the aesthetics, but believe me being at places like this with a manageable crowd can give you a gateway to more than just distractions.

Maybe, I felt what I felt because I have so much going on and nothing happening at the same time if you know what I mean. To feel that pause, and the peace gave me some time to feel present.

I once heard in a spiritual class that connecting to all or most of your senses at once might lead you to the highest form of presence. Now that I think about it, I was close to it. The touch of cold marble and cool water on my feet, the Ardas going on for the ears, the grand Diwan hall for my eyes, the smell, oh my god the smell seemed heavenly after a long day inside a car which has been running for days.

I’ll trade any outing for this experience anytime, especially after long weekends and long days.

PS: I’m not a believer, just learning to believe these days.