All of this talk and thought about Meditation, and doing a quick write-up on the CDs i sent to Karen has made me recall many things about my time in India. The CDs come into play because one of them is mostly devotional songs for Lord Ayyappa – the patron saint of Sabarimala.
The historical/traditional story of Lord Ayyappa will come later (soon) as will the story of my pilgrimage there. For now i will just say that it is a holy site and a pilgrimage destination for Hindus from all over the world.
It is in Northern Kerala in a mountainous/heavily forested region. There are purification rituals that you undergo as far as 45 days before making your pilgrimage (no meat, booze, smokes, sex, impure thoughts, and so forth). You have a special pooja ceremony with a specific priest in the morning before you leave for your trip.
Depending on which of the two paths up the mountain you choose, you may (as i did) bathe in the holy river Pamba before making your ascent.
You climb this mountain barefoot.
There are many, many other pilgrims with you on the trip. There would be anyway, but the site is only open to pilgrims a few specific times each year.
I am bringing this up because i do feel that it is time for me to begin writing and sharing more openly about my time in India and in the Mid East. I think that the story of the pilgrimage to Sabarimala may be a good place to begin.
Also – there was a terrible accident there last night and over 100 people died in a stampede.
The cause and details are a little sketchy right now and probably the “true story” will never be known.
It seems that vehicles were probably involved (there are not supposed to be any vehicles in the area) as well as incredibly poor infrastructure and planning for a site that gets predictably huge crowds at specific times every year.
While the whole incident is tragic and i am sending out good thoughts for all involved, i also do not yet know if any of my people we there at the time.
I have sent some mails out to my partners, employees, and friends and have not yet had any replies.
One of the reports states that only 5 Keralites were killed, though there are 8 unidentified bodies.
I do not think my guys were there at this time, but this is a special time of year cosmologically to be at Sabarimala.
Anyway, some carefully crafted invective about organized religion, greed, poor leadership, poor government, and poor planning are sure to follow, but for now i just want to send out good thoughts and reflect on the unknown and the transitory nature of existence.
If ever we needed another reminder to make each moment count and to live each day to the fullest and to follow our dreams – to do what we love – this is a good one.
Over 100 people died on a holy pilgrimage to an ancient and sacred site where they hoped to share their faith and get closer to the spirit of God.