One may take trips for sake of others and end up enjoying themselves thoroughly.
Well, this was not a trip we initiated but mom had made some wish earlier and wanted to visit the famous temple of Mehendipur Balaji to offer her gratitude to the Lord Hanuman. It is sort of a ritual that whoever has their wish fulfilled visits the place back and offers food to entire family and others. It was our turn this time and hence we planned our visit to the sacred center in the end of February 2017.
As planned we boarded our train on the evening of Feb 24th and reached Bandikui by about midnight. Bandikui is a small city in Rajasthan which we were using as a temporary base before proceeding to our destination. The aim was to cover the major part of the journey during the night so that we could reach Balaji early the next morning. We spent the night in Bandikui and were up early the next day rearing to go. We were aboard our car by about 7 and were speeding away on the national highway towards Mehndipur Balaji. Mehndipur is a small town in Dausa district of Rajasthan and is famous for the Balaji temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman.
|The Sri Ram Ashram - Our Camp Site|
We reached our destination by 8:30 in the morning and settled ourselves in a hotel - Shree Ram Dharamshala. It was a decent place considering that we were in a small town. It has nicely arranged rooms and a small canteen to cater to guests requests. We checked into our rooms and got ready for the day. We had a few extra rooms booked at the hotel as we had invited all our family and friends for the occasion. We got the rooms ready while waiting for people to arrive. We were all there by about 10 AM and a long session of gossips and catching up ensued.
In batches of 10, we made our way towards the Balaji Temple for the darshan of Lord Hanuman. The temple is considered to be a very powerful place as per the beliefs of Hindus. It is believed that the deity in this temple has divine power to cure a person possessed with evil spirits. Hundreds of Sankatwalas', as the possessed people are referred to in local lingo, throng to the temple every day to offer prayers and have 'darshan'. The temple has also become a home and the last respite for the victims. One may find the visuals inside the temple a bit moving or uncomfortable but the devotees visit the temple to get rid of their problems and truly believe in the power of Lord Hanuman. We, on the other hand, were there to express our gratitude and hence visited the sanctum santorum for the darshan.
|Temple Front Elevation|
We were out of the temple by about noon and it was time to get on with the activities of "Savamani" a ritual for feeding devotees with prasad. The term "Savamani" is derived from the word "Sava" meaning one and a quarter in Hindi and the word "Mun" or "Maund", a mass unit weighing about 40 kg; thus adding the total up to 50 kg. Thus the practice is related to the offering of food (weighing up to 50 kg) by the devotees to their deity, referred to as Savamani. The food is either prepared by the cooks of the temple kitchens or outsourced to food-caterers. The food after first being offered to the deity is later used as part of family celebrations, distributed over to family and relatives or donated to the needy.
The first thing was to visit the temple sanctum from the other side and wait until the food was offered to Lord Hanuman and then distributed to those who had booked their share. We had done an online booking for the same and were provided food against the receipt. A couple of guys from the hotel accompanied us with big vessels to collect the food. We brought the food back to the hotel and invited all guests to lunch. All family members took turns to serve food as it is considered to be holy and brings blessings of the God. Once all the family members had lunch, we asked the hotel staff to allow anyone hungry to have food on our account. All this took about a couple of hours and the entire ritual was over by about 3 in the afternoon.
|Happy Faces At the End|
It was time to bid goodbyes and soon the guest started leaving for their home. We presented everyone with a small memorabilia and wished them a happy and safe journey back home. It indeed was a great family get-together and we were all really happy to meet everyone after quite some time. There were, in fact, a number of family members who I could not recognize as we had earlier met them long ago. In all the entire ceremony went by smoothly and we were really satisfied. If for nothing else, the smile on mom's face at the end of it was priceless and worth any effort or pain.
After wrapping up everything and clearing our bills at the hotel we proceeded back. We spent a day in Jaipur with parents before returning to Gurgaon.