By Shobha Diwakar

The week- long journey was nice and comfortable. The scattering clouds shading the sun which seemed to hop, skip and jump across the western sky slyly looking down upon the reddish hue of the departing day greeted  Shiva and his family warmly  towards the end of their last journey to Vrindavan.

It was Holi, the festival of colors and the gaiety and throngs of people flooded the roads, rejoicing and merry making as though there was not a care in the world except to douse one and all with ‘gulal’. Little did it matter whether the person was known or unknown to the rioters, the rowdy gang spilled buckets of color on pedestrians not sparing those travelling in auto rickshaws, or cars. Shiva’s mind fluttered and boggled at a rapid pace to witness this utter madness of color fumes rising high with the breeze and polluting the environment. He wondered if this is how holi is celebrated, it is best to keep away from it. This can cause not only allergic reactions but if caught in the eyes or mouth, can be dangerous.  Well the tale does not end here.  He was told that in a village not far away people tumbled buckets of dung on whoever passed that way! Why this obnoxious way of celebrating an otherwise goodwill festival raised an alarm. Did people really enjoy this dung bath?

All the same, the day trudged along with holi fanfare while the family eagerly waited for the evening to visit some temples where holi is celebrated by the pundits.  Here first prayers are said to be offered to the Radha Krishna with ‘aarti’ after which gulal and color is thrown at the congregation. Shiva had never heard or experienced such a real ‘live show’ before so considered this to be an opportunity of a lifetime. To witness this ‘exotic’ event he decided to hire an auto and visit this celebration point. Once they were comfortably seated, the auto rushed through the disorderly thronged roads into narrow winding streets (if one could call them so).  Even as each of them held on to their dear lives against the speeding traffic jam and crowds of people (only heads could be seen); pushing and nudging one’s way out of the stuffy narrow lanes they finally came to a halt before an ancient looking temple hovering over by a throng of red bottom monkeys running madly across the roads. As they managed to dislodge themselves from the auto the driver issued a severe warning, ‘take off your glasses and hide them and clutch your bags safely before the monkeys snatch them off you. If you wish to get them back, you will have to spend ten bucks and buy them a frootie (cold drink). They will then (if they wish), throw back your stuff or break them and sip their drink!’ That was enough to frighten the life out of them, nonetheless, they quickly pocketed their spectacles and slid out hastily and shifted their gait towards the temple where Shiva encountered a drunken man on the steps swaying out of this holy shrine.

The gaiety inside drowned every sound except the chanting of the mantras, and prayers and ‘aarti’ to the blessed idols while the merry making crowd pushed and nudged each other to catch a glimpse of all the offerings being made. Most of the people took video shots of the occasion, and rejoiced and shrieked as the pundits threw gulal and color at the congregation, which actually marked the end of the temple holi celebration.

It was then, … just then, that something dreadful happened. A strange man covered from head to foot with a dirty white sheet crouching somewhere behind, lurched forward and rudely pulled someone from the crowd and nose- dived towards the opposite end of the exit. No one was aware of this sudden encounter as people were already walking out of the hall. Someone’s eyes caught hold of this sudden stumble and bravely he stepped forward and yelling ‘a..rer a..re, rushed forward and pulled the frightened woman towards himself and out of the clutches of this hooded rascal; even as the culprit friskily scooted out of sight and mingled into the not so aware crowd of people. Some onlookers were puzzled and shaken up, as according to them such a thing had never before happened in the temple.

Later it became clear that a gang of thieves had entered the temple and was on the look out to loot and escape. Unawares, an outsider had been trapped, targeted and robbed of gold, which was afterwards discovered. It is obvious there is a group of people that believes the easiest means to earn a livelihood is to rob and make merry. Such people forget that heaven and hell are on this very planet. Their guilty conscience of robbing an innocent devotee in a pious place will never let them sleep in peace and surely, they will rot and suffer until eternity.

Losing a precious piece of gold is not that hurtful as the trust that a person loses on another human being dressed in wolf’s garb… that too in a holy place of worship. Such horrid maniacs are found everywhere, in every nook and corner of the world and believe that their dishonest earnings will last them a lifetime. In fact, they must be living like rats and moles in dull, dark holes with their black deeds written all over their forehead. Surely God in heaven must have watched this dreary deed and planned poetic justice, so people are not dismayed and do not lose faith in visiting sacred  shrines or places.

About the Author: Dr. Shobha Diwakar lives in Jabalpur, India and retired as the head of English department at C.P. Mahila Mahavidhyalaya, Jabalpur. She has published many research papers, stories, poems and essays in national, international and online journals. She contributes regularly to writerslifeline and Indian Periodical. Dr Diwakar  servers on the Advisory Board of www.writerslifeline.ca. 

One Comment

  1. Ms Diwakar’s story is a very big warning to all of us. It’s frightening to think that no one is safe anywhere not even in a holy place like a temple. Such acts destroy it’s sanctity. What a shame that today some people are losing all morality & don’t wish to earn their livelihood in an honest manner!

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