Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Temple Of Gold, A Pond Of Nectar

The free bus from the railway station to the Harmandir Sahib, also known as Darbar Sahib drops us at the gate. The entrance is simple. No ostentatious decorations. Only rows of blue, gold and silver streamers hanging overhead along the path that leads us inside the complex. There are no beggars, and no shops selling flowers or other offerings either.

The place where you must take off and deposit your footwear is impressive. There are rows after rows of shelves slightly under the ground level. They are manned mostly by elderly gentlemen. There are benches where you can sit while you remove your shoes. And washbasins to wash your hands after you have deposited them. Very thoughtful indeed. Walk a little further and you step into a shallow pool of running water. Your feet get a nice wash before you enter the holy premises. As you step out of the pool, there are jute mats and other mats made of a very nice green material, running along the entire length of the marble walkway that surrounds the pond  on all four sides.This makes sure that the floor does not remain wet and that there are no dirty feet marks anywhere. The entire temple premises are spotlessly clean. As you start walking along the path, the golden edifice in the centre of the pond gleams in the mild winter sun. Soothing strains of Gurbani waft in the air. They are singing it live in the sanctum sanctorum. Some people are walking quietly, others are sitting in the covered corridors on the sides with their eyes closed, and some are bending down, touching their forehead to the ground in reverence.

I stop at a window to buy some 'kadah parshad'. It is a kind of porridge made with whole wheat flour, oozing with ghee. Now we are on our way to the bridge which will take us to the temple. It is built on a square platform in the middle of the pond. It is a beautiful shrine, adorned with intricately carved panels of gold on all four sides.The crowd is moderate and people are waiting patiently in a queue. Volunteers are standing by silently, keeping an alert eye on the surroundings. I am trying to keep my head covered with my dupatta. But it does slip off. Every time that happens, I get a polite reminder from a volunteer to pull it over my head.

We pass through the Darshani Deori to enter an ornate chamber. This is the holiest of holy places for Sikhs all over the world. People are silent, bending in obeisance in front of the sacred Guru Granth Sahib. It is covered with a heavily decorated maroon quilt. There are flowers, a group of  people is sitting and singing, others are moving about. It is very calm and serene here, in spite of the presence of so many.

Little later, we head towards the langar. Volunteers hand us a steel plate, a container for water and a spoon. We enter the hall and take our place on the mat. The chapati, daal, kadhi and rice is simple, but delicious. It is amazing to see how people cook and serve food, and wash the dishes with a spirit of service...sewa. Thousands eat here everyday and the langar is open 24 hours in a day.

Photos by Prateek
 I go to collect my shoes. The gent who hands them over to me is a senior citizen. He joins his hands in a polite namaskaar to my 'thank you'. And I feel thanking him is so inadequate. The passion with which he is standing here, handling the footwear of thousands of strangers is something to be admired from the bottom of one's heart. I join my hands and the words 'Sat Shri Akal' tumble out of my mouth.


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed this post! Looking forward to reading more such entries.

    - Vaishnavi

  2. Very Well written and described in detail.....!!!