Crazy experience from the hinterland of Rajasthan
Dungarpur is a relatively small city in the southernmost part of Rajasthan. If you have already heard of Dungarpur, the chances are that you or your friend stays in Dungarpur, or you have a good sense of humour. It was either the fact that we had seen too many tourists in Udaipur, or Pragnya Bhabhi’s persuasion, that we decided to spend the next few days in this remote territory.
Our ever faithful RE Classic 500, after a recent inspiration from Maharana Prataps’s horse in Chittorgarh and then Udaipur, was ready to bear the responsibility we assigned her. From the moment we alighted to the highway leading towards Dungarpur, we knew it was a region like nothing we had seen before. The bike confused herself with a flying bird at times when the road took a number of twists and turns through the beautifully uneven terrain.
Before reaching Dungarpur, I only knew about Udaipur being the city of lakes. But it turns out that Dungarpur has more lakes than any other region in Rajasthan. My favorite exercise in the day was to open the satellite map of the area to find blue patches of water.
This morning wasn’t different. About 12 km from our stay, this water body was ideally placed. A lake, surrounded by higher grounds all around, with a presence of a small village, was a perfect fit for the explorer in me. The bike cleared her throat before giving a roaring start in the winter morning and we started for our excursion.
The lake was more beautiful than I had imagined. I was in for a surprise treat. I found a beautiful spot to park my motor-bike and climbed some steps on the adjoining hill. Thick clouds at the horizon didn’t let the Sun come out through their blanket for long, but when it did, a shining ball of gold could be seen with its alter ego in the crystal blue water below. That moment is imprinted in my memory forever!
When I climbed down, not far from there, I could see some curious faces. With a big motorcycle and all the complementary clothing, I surely looked as an alien to the group of these kids. To break the ice, I went close to them and said hello. They smiled and greeted back in a shy but a cheerful tone. Looking at some smoke coming out at some distance, I asked them what was happening there. They informed me that it was a temple there and people had gathered to worship the deity. Upon asking if I could also join them, they happily accompanied me to the temple.
My arrival meant 20 more sets of curious eyes. I could spot the priest, who was busy smoking a chillum. A young man, more enthusiastic of the lot invited me to be a part of the ceremony. He explained that the temple was made commemorating a siddh baba whose history dated back to 150 years ago in the British era. I told them that I was a tourist in the region and I had come from Delhi. When everybody settled at their place, the priest, locally known as bhopa, started chanting some mantra. As he progressed, I could notice a certain change in his body language. Within no time, it appeared as if something had entered his body which had changed his voice as well.
His head was moving left and right like a pendulum, while the eyelids were wide open. At the top of his voice what I could hear was, ‘svaaha svaaha’. He picked up a sword like thing from the hot coal, which I had earlier spotted from afar, creating smoke. He made some choreographically orchestrated moves and then swirled it in a zig-zag motion around a fellow villager’s head. The villager clearly looked frightened, which signalled me that it wasn’t a normal thing even for the local guy. Next, he looked into my eyes and moved forward.
My heart was beating like a hot pump by then. Similar to the last person, he swirled the iron piece around my head as well. But the next moment, he put it at the ground a few inches from my feet. Before I could understand anything that was happening around, he bowed down and touched my feet.
“Here is the god himself visiting our village! Everybody come and touch his feet.”
By then, I was completely psyched out. I had just been declared a god, and villagers were lining up to touch my feet and take blessings. This included people much older than me, in their seventies and eighties. In an utter state of shock, I stood like a pillar. But if I was the god, why not to play it well. By the third or fourth person, I started giving them blessings as well.
When the whole process was over, I was offered a cup of tea which I obviously couldn’t refuse. The priest came closer to me and revealed that it wasn’t a regular day for them to collect there. People had reported seeing the deity in their dreams for a few days, who had particularly asked them to collect at one place and do some worship. After much planning, they had zeroed on this day at 7:30am in the morning. It had to be more than just a coincidence for me to be visiting the same place all the way from New Delhi, also at the same time. Nothing else could explain it to him than the fact that the deity had decided to present himself in my form.
Still psyched out with the whole experience, I thanked them for offering this hospitality to a stranger like me and giving all the respect that was never warranted. On the way back, every person seemed to be staring at me. The Sun had a brighter glow, and the air was a tad bit warmer. It was the day of being the god.