Wednesday, June 19, 2013

An ode to Shiva of Rishikesh

This year monsoon is ascending fast. It has already drenched North India a month prior to its usual date. And the lashing has been cruel. News channels yesterday were replaying photographs of entire buildings and other structures collapsing like a pack of cards. Floods, storms and torrential rain enveloped North India like never before yesterday. A sculpture of Lord Shiva that attracts major crowds in Rishikesh, a well-known destination in Uttarakhand, was photographed submerged in the floods.

I remember Rishikesh from my last two trips to the city two years back. That place has a tremendous population of yogis and spiritual institutions. There's some mythological significance to every nook and corner of Rishikesh. Yet in today's times it should not be blasphemy to call it a "hotspot" of spiritual tourism... at the risk of downplaying its historic legacy.

Coming back to the Shiva sculpture, I had the opportunity to see it and soak in its spiritual ambiance during my short professional visit to Rishikesh, two monsoons back. An overwhelming number of devotees and tourists flocks the site daily where Shiva sits tall. From its original location right amidst waves of the ever-flowing holy river Ganga, the statue was later elevated to an ugly cement pedestal. As daily bhajans progress with echoing chants of "Jai Bholenath", the unassuming waterfront of Ganga transforms into an astonishingly charged-up environment.

I can still feel the vibrations, the oneness, the collective epiphany of the moment. Indeed, it all seems like just yesterday. And yet today is a different story. The Shiva sculpture is no more visible in its place, the raging Ganga making a blanket cover over it. These rains are creating yet another bookmark in the history of Rishikesh. Yet it seems just like yesterday that I was bathing my feet in the same holy waters.....

Time flies..... and how! today, as I sign in to write on my beloved Shiva sculpture, I note that I haven't blogged for a good 6 months in 2013! That's half a year gone.... and the remaining isn't heeding either!  Long before we realize, these floods will be gone, life shall return to normalcy. Monsoon will be over..... and artists like me shall gear up to welcome a fresh season of festivities, celebrations,  devotion and decorations. Life will move on.....

Soon we will be at the heels of yet another new year.... as if 2013 never was.....


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