The month-long pilgrimage period gives them an opportunity to mingle with the people of the Indian mainland and share their cultural ideas
I was sitting in my garden enjoying my morning cup of tea and browsing the headlines when my smartphone started ringing. It was Bashir who called me from Anantnag. I picked up the phone and had a smile on my face and talked to my old mate from Kashmir. He was inviting me to visit the Kashmir Valley. He told me about a number of advantages of getting out of hot and crowded Delhi and spending a few days in Kashmir. When he found that he was not able to convince me much because of my work commitment; Then he played the trump and said that “Baba Barfani” invited me to his house. He was aware of my spiritual inclinations in life and was sure that I would not refuse him. She readily accepted his invitation and planned to visit the holy shrine of Shri Amarnathji during the proposed period of pilgrimage this year. Then we exchanged good wishes and kept the phone.
I sat on the chair with my eyes closed in our garden and a whole scenario of my trip to the holy shrine of Amarnathji appeared in my thoughts. Memories of my two-week trip moved through my mind like a movie. Four years ago, I arrived at Pahalgam with a burning desire in my heart to visit the sacred cave. I came across Bashir at the base camp who enthusiastically agreed to be my porter during my visit to the sacred cave. It took six days to travel to the sacred cave and look at “Shivling made of Snow”. We passed through Chandanwadi, Sheshnag and Panchtarni before we finally reached the final destination. We had to force stop at times when it started raining but nothing could defeat our determination.
During our long discussions on the way, I learned that this pilgrimage had not only spiritual significance but also social, cultural and financial significance for the locals. Porters, guides, pony owners, taxi drivers, and hoteliers waited all year round for the tourists and pilgrims to arrive because it would give them good profits. In the earlier days and till now, the people of Kashmir were mostly confined within the valley. They hardly have a chance to overtake PirPanjal. The month-long pilgrimage period gives them an opportunity to mingle with the people of the Indian mainland and share their cultural ideas. second, it reaffirms the belief that thousands of years ago, since prehistoric times; Kashmir was an integral part of India and had the same culture and religious affinity. This pilgrimage will give the pilgrim an opportunity to look inside himself and do some soul-searching. It will provide much-needed relief from jogging in the daily life of the city and bring it closer to nature and thus open up the realm of the spiritual world. A two-week stay in mountain buildings with close connection with nature would greatly benefit our health.
Bashir continued recounting various folk tales associated with the litra and different places on the way we came across. He had a deep knowledge of cultural politics and had been working as a porter guide for over a decade during the Amarnath Yatra. People from different parts of the country thronged the trip and it seemed like a cultural mix of the country. Everyone was bound by a common cultural and religious bond that brought him/her here on this beautiful spiritual journey. Security forces were vigil at all times and ensure the safety of all worshippers. There was enough support from the organizers for our comfortable stay. When I had completed my first journey to the sacred house of Shri Amarnathji; I had one question on my mind. “What all the good should happen to this place if there were no social unrest or militancy?” Although the situation has improved much more than it was three decades ago; We still have to travel miles ahead.
I was sitting with my eyes closed in the garden of my house in Delhi and all the memories of my previous trip to the house of God in Amarnath were reeling in my mind. I have renewed the desire to visit that spiritual place that is part of our eternal culture and history in my heart and soul. I felt like putting on wings and flying to that spot right away. It was indeed an invitation from God’s house.