Monday, July 20, 2009

Kanwarias----Shiva's foot soldiers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Past three days all the educational institutions in Ghaziabad are closed!and all of us in the teaching fraternity are treated to a pleasant surprise of five days off from our busy schedule(of course we will work overtime or may be we will skip certain other calendar listed holidays).However for now we are relaxing thanks to the self styled soldiers of lord Shiva. As traffic crawl along UP- Delhi border, we can see long lines and huge crowds of saffron clad men and rarely a few women carrying kanwars( triangular wooden frames) colourfully decorated with cheap plastic festoons and toys. As monsoon sets in , we can see these kanwariahs initially in pairs or small groups across the plains of north India. From Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand and mostly from Uttar Pradesh they travel by various modes of transport towards Haridwar, Gangotri and Gomukh, to collect the sacred water from river Ganges and take the water to their local Shiva shrine to offer the ganga jal(sacred water of Ganges )on the shivaling.The real pilgrimage starts after collecting the water from Ganga. the kanwarias have to walk bare foot on their way back home carrying kanwars in various forms(according to their planned penance). the toughest one is the dak kanwar in which the kanwaria has to run all the way carrying the kanwar and the easiest one usually by the novitiates is the baithi, in which the kanwar can be allowed to sit on ground while the kanwaria rests. walking or even in rare cases running long distance means extreme exhaustion, blisters on feet, cramps,and often irritability. this also teaches them a lot of endurance, though we can hardly see them in that positive state of mind.intoxicants like bhang is consumed by many to help them bear the hardship (may be). the result of all this is arrogance and rowdiness on the part of these pilgrims who are called Bholenath(another name for Shiva). On their tour back home they are treated like Shiva and reverence is in abundance for them. The huge tents set up by rich shop keepers and various charity organizations and blessed by the government host these pilgrims by pampering them, feeding them and even tending their blistered feet and massaging their limbs.All through their journey back which may span over a period of 10 days, they receive royal treatment at every rest house tents they reach  en route,and, the kanwaria devotees hasten to feed them and offer cool drinks and and care even on roads.
Usually majority of the kanwarias are from the lower strata of society who are otherwise looked on with contempt by the upper strata and as suspected thieves and miscreants by the police. once they don the kanwaria garb they are treated with great reverence. Most of them who are deprived of two square meals a  day in their normal life, are fed with rich food and given the luxury of abundant rest and pamper by those who look down upon them otherwise. What a paradox of our society! Or is that a sweet unpronounced revenge by the lowly people on the affluent lot in the society?? Whatever.... for now they are simply basking in the name of god and making use of every ounce of pamper bestowed on them....and....thanks to them,we, in the teaching faculty along with the students are relaxing in gratitude(?????) to the kanwarias--------the soldiers of lord Shiva!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3 comments:

soul speaks said...

Dear Teacher,

You know something I think when you were going through my post I was going through 'Ambrosia'taking a print out of the recipe for 'neypayasam'.
I do not know how you connect to me like this, I can never ever read your comments with out having a tear rolling down my cheeks, I was almost choked up with emotions when I heard your voice over the phone after so many years. I think we have some karmic connection somewhere.. Thanks a lot for cheerful words and advises which makes me feel so special.

love you always
Rekha

indianhomemaker said...

Very interesting take on the Kanwarias. When we were young we never heard any traffic jams because of Kanwarias anywhere, and when one did see them, they were not the kind to create trouble. I think the political support they receive makes them create trouble for common people.

They are offered liquor also, they can enjoy liquor because they are Shiv Bhakt. Shiv Parvati enjoyed SOM RAS.But this makes me wonder why some women were beaten up and molested in Mangalore for allegedly drinking in a Pub. Isn't drinking and dancing a part of Hindu culture?

chandrika said...

thanks a million my new blogger friend. thank u for including me in ur read list.
As for the consumption of liquor, it is usually in abundance among the kanwarias it seems.
True why do the self styled social reformers interfere in the personal lifestyle of ordinary ppl I too wonder!WELL.....