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On a sacred note
Celebrating the ancient and holy city of Pushkar, the second edition of Shree Cement The Sacred Pushkar invokes the inner divinity of visitors. By Jigyasu Joshi
Pushkar lake has a Jaipur ghat, not because the holy waters need reiteration of their value but because lying at Lord Brahma’s feet, a dip guarantees you instantaneous divine relief. A group of priests gathers with long incense sticks, lights a big lamp and stands in solidarity and are about to perform a religious ritual. The robed men begin singing with utmost devotion, in tandem with each other’s pitch, radiating calmness. The rhythmic rendition of the Sanskrit slokas reflects their musical sensibility. And all visitors are momentarily transported to the realm of the primal universe.
It was the Sacred Festival and we were in Pushkar to experience a culture explosion like no other. The festival opened at the beautifully bedecked Jaipur Ghat, with Tibetan Heart Yoga by ZaChoeje Rinpoche. He introduced the audience to the Tibetan way of Yoga, explaining the five chakras of the body while focusing on the heart chakra which forms the core of being as they are born. He led the audience through various techniques including breathing patterns that benefit the heart.
After the wellness session began the enchanting morning music which invoked the spirit of ‘The Sacred’.
Trained in the classical form by Pandit Madhup Mudgal, vocalist Sukriti Sen’s mellifluous voice mesmerised us with bhajans like Guru Bin Kaun Bataye, Chal Mann Ganga Jamuna Teer and Jamuna Kinare Mora Gaon. With her soulful renditions inNat Bhairav, Sukriti left the audience asking for more. Soon after her performance, the stage was taken by Harpreet Singh. Taking his inspiration from the poetry of Baba Bulleh Shah, soulful renditions of Sufi songs from the Delhi based artiste left the crowd enraptured with compositions like Maati, Aa Mil Yaar and Suryakant Tripathi Nirala’s Jhoom Jhoom Mridu Garaj Garaj Ghan Ghor.
Following the musical performances, we got an opportunity to learn about organic cooking in a session by Chef Rajeev Payal from Navdanya, a network of seed keepers and organic producers spread across 16 states in India. Chef Rajeev talked about the health benefits of organic food and showcased recipes of delicacies like kuttu ki chaata and amaranth cutlets.
While we tried our hand in cooking the organic cutlets, Chef Rajeev told us about the history of amaranth. Cultivated by the Aztecs 8,000 years ago and still a native crop in Peru, the ancient history of amaranth can be traced to Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula. The crop however today is grown in Africa, India, China, Russia, throughout South America.
After filling our tummies, we started up for a Heritage Walk through the streets, ghats and temples of Pushkar with Pandit Ravi Sharma, a city resident who has been promoting local Rajasthani talent through his Pushkar Records music label.
The Heritage Walk was the high-point of the day’s events. Discovering the different hues of the city, we visit the Old Rangjee Temple, Varah Temple, Atmateshwar Mahadev, Baai ji ka Mandir, Maan Mahal and Zahangir Mahal.
By dawn, the stage was set for the evening ragas. Taking the center stage was Daler Mehendi. The singer enthralled the audience through his soulful voice. Contrary to his pumpy dance songs, the Sufi version of the singer kept the crowd intact.
Being a part of the spiritual festival made us feel more connected to the cosmic truth. Apart from exploring different shades of the holy city, we found another most important thing. We discovered our inner selves.
Photo: Himanshu Jangid
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