Late one day after work, Anita and Ajay and myself piled in to their car, and Vishram, their giggly driver, drove us out towards the city limits to a place that is highly revered by my hosts as well as thousands of other people. It is called the Bade Mandir and is the place that devotees go to each and every day to be at peace, heal their hearts, receive blessings and are gifted with food.
Anita and Ajay shared this experience with me as they faithfully attend to this Mandir and engage in the blessings of the Guru Ji at least once a week.
I could tell we were close to the place as the road was beginning to be lined with parked cars for at least one kilometer, if not more, from the structure. We drove to the marble building and stepped out of the car to a red carpet that leads in to the well-lit building. We were led by Sewadars, or volunteers, and I followed Ajay and Anita respectfully observing what was being done: small prayers, kneeling, a walk around the seat of Lord Shiva, a offering of money.
After the quickly observed rituals, we entered an outside area where at least a hundred people were being seated on carpets laid out on the ground and food was being offered for each. While we sat waiting for our food delivery, I enjoyed people watching and was in awe at the variances: many attended were quite obviously ill, some in wheelchairs, some on crutches and some simply being held up by family members. Some of the ladies wore their very best sarees and jewels, and many wore simple warm clothing (it’s winter after all). I saw that I was obviously the only caucasian person there, or at least from all that I could see, and could not help but wonder what they were thinking about me. Some sort of white chick who was so underdressed for such a cold night out and yet looked too much at ease. It was a place of peace, despite the numbers in attendance, and I did feel at ease…I was being fed!
It is customary that every little bit of food be eaten of this prasad, or food blessed by the guruji, and should not be wasted. The food was quite spicy and very tasty: I had no problem finishing it all up much to Anita’s surprise! Once we finished our food, we promptly left for the next group of people to enter. Vishram was there with the car and we piled back in for the long drive back home, all of us quietly satisfied and tired.
This Mandir is a very busy one, as no doubt most of them would be. The place is open 5 days a week and quite literally sees thousands of devotees during this time. It was an experience I had not had up until now and I am grateful to have seen something that holds so much meaning for so many people around the globe.
Below I have copied the url for your enjoyment.