"3550 steps... 9 kms.. Then you are there" pointed out my cousin. My aunt beamed at him proudly and then turned towards me and said “he has changed a lot right? Look at him… the boarding school has infact refined him... he is also looking healthy these days…” I nodded and went ahead. I was only at 1450th step and it’s all I can stand at that moment. Exhausted, I sat on the step and stretched my legs. My aunt and her two sons, my brother were all way ahead. I looked down in search of others. My uncle was nearing me. My mom was far behind. It looked like she was gasping. My dad was climbing next to her. I felt that it was totally ridiculous... “Why should we strain so much…all for what in return? “ Save my aunt and mom, there were people who were kneeling down at each step, lighting camphor while chanting God’s names.
It all started because of my aunt. We were on our way to a temple which was somewhere on the summit of seven mountains. I was really sure if it’s on top of a mountain or in between seven mountains. All I knew was that we gotta climb for nearly 5 hours to reach there. My aunt and mom insisted that we walk all the way up. We had to walk all the way up to participate in a holy ritual which was believed to do good to the onlookers. I was not at all fascinated but I was not given a choice.
Grumbling and panting, I walked along with others who were all charmed by the idea. Though I whined all the way up, I should say that the walk up the mountains, through the woods was not that bad. (Well, it was not exactly a forest, there were lotsa trees around and we could spot/feed few deers. :-))
Having had an indefensible but somewhat satisfying (cos of the climate, trees and deers) trekking experience, we went to attend the ritual for which we had to spend a good deal. The ritual was all the more unreasonable. I was told that every hindu girl should see the ritual for it was believed that she would get a good married life. The ritual proceeded with an aged saint (I am not really sure if he is one... he was looking lik that) chanting mantras in front of three deity status. The ritual was nothing but marriage ceremony. The shocking part of the ritual was that the marriage was between the three statues symbolizing a guy marrying two girls at the same time. “Yeah right, And I was watching that to get a good married life”. I had to keep my mouth shut for that look of my mom and aunt (ardent believers). I felt like a civilized idiot. But looking around I pacified myself with just one thought “I am not the only one”…
Later found out that there were 10,352 on-lookers including me. Lol!!