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A Hundred Gourds 4:3 June 2015

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page 15  

Yesha Shah - India


Navagraha


Each place becomes grander once it finds a home in the carved trunk of memories. Every Saturday, for years, in spite of the long walk from home I was only too fervent to come to this temple holding Grandpa’s finger. Vendors sold their wares on thelas along this narrow lane, flanked on either side by shanties. There were bronze idols and brass artefacts, sweets and dried coconuts for Prasad, red chunaris and materials for worship, flowers and garlands. There was also the toy stall where I spent most of my time mulling over little dolls, strung on a nylon rope, packed in transparent crinkling plastic covers. After a moment of prayer I’d scamper out to play with the tortoises, doves and rabbits petted in the temple courtyard.

evening aarti
the jingle of coins
in a beggar’s bowl

The shanties have long since been demolished and those makeshift thelas have given way to dinghy little shops. Still as colourful and bright is the lane, with yellow bulbs hanging on braided wires. Wafting in the breeze, the familiar scents of incense sticks, camphor, rajnigandhas, marigolds, jasmines and roses. The sound of cymbals, bells and drums merges with the singing of hymns. Some of the known vendors are still there albeit with greying, receding hair lines and wrinkled faces. While some have become photographs framed in one corner of their shops and garlanded with floral sandalwood. This time I bow my head sincerely in prayer. These Navagrahas govern our destiny, so Grandpa used to say.

nascent moon—
a life twirls round
my umbilicus



Notes:
Navagraha - nine planets
Prasad - food served as offering to God
thelas - wooden carts that serves for displaying of wares



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