Mumbai Memoir 64- Mumbai’s glittering Baan-Ganga!
Life is full of surprises. Early this week, after a very hectic day at work, I thought of unwinding at a very quite spot in the heart of Mumbai. Cutting through the noise & bustling traffic of South Mumbai, I hurriedly scootered towards Baan-Ganga tank at Walkeshwar temple. The ancient Hindu temple of Walkeshwar (an avatar of Lord Shiva) has a mythological reference to it in the Ramayana- one of the great epics of India. The story goes that when Lord Rama, along with his brother Lakshman, were on their way to Lanka to get back Sita, the duo happened to stop at the very spot where the temple is built today. Lord Rama wanted to pray to Lord Shiva, so he created a Shiv-linga (symbolic of Lord Shiva) out of sand for his worship. Walu/Balu means sand in Devnagri languages. Ishwar means God. Thus the name ‘Walu-ka-ishwar’- Wal’kesh’war! Also the tank in front of the temple is believed to be a result of an heroic act done by Lord Rama. As per mythology, the sweet water source has been existing since Lord Rama created it after shooting an arrow from his bow onto the rock. ‘Baan’ in Devnagri languages means ‘arrow’ and Ganga is referred as the holy water source. Thus the name ‘Baan-Ganga’!
On reaching the usual serene ambiance at the temple, I realized that a religious event was scheduled that evening. Full moon days are considered to be auspicious for conducting religious prayers in Hindu beliefs. It was a co-incidence that I thought of visiting the temple that evening. To my surprise, the entire tank was lit with oil lamps and rangoli (colourful powder art) and rhythmic music played by a troupe. The brilliance of the place was so magical that it felt celestial. The event that was scheduled that evening was of ‘Maha-Aarti’ where the ‘Baan-Ganga’ water body, which is symbolic of the River Ganga (at Benaras/Varanasi) was to be worshipped, thus offering gratitude prayers, like it’s the case in Hindu beliefs. Gaud Saraswat Brahman Temple Trust, Wadala (Mumbai) had sponsored the event and invited the public to participate and experience the evening.
It was a beautiful feeling as I lit few lamps with the backdrop of pleasant music. A leisurely stroll at the nearby temples was a ‘soulful’ delight. As if, the ‘blood moon’ above was witnessing the event like a king onlooking his courtiers perform the prayers! It was a amazing to see the geese gracefully floating in the tank as they fetched their supper amidst the event. All in all, the evening was a great stress reliever for me, as I reflected on life. The lamps lit all around were conveying me the importance of re-kindling one’s spirit and to push one’s self out of darkness. I further reflected, that darkness in one’s life can act as fuel which just needs to be channelized for greater good. Its just a matter of lighting a lamp of hope in one’s soul, which I believe will vanquish the darkness that holds us back! The best part of the evening was this philosophical ‘take away’ which re-kindled my spirit to ‘move on with life’ & face the ups & downs of life in Mumbai!
Photo courtesy: Shraddha Sankulkar & Geeta Sonawane