I know it’s over… the pilgrimage, the ransacking of tents (in a good way, I mean)… the kanwar-carrying, mantra-chanting, wobbly-walking on blistered soles and bleeding feet… all in Glory to the Great Lord Shiva, whose blessing we all seek. Truth be told, it’s been a while since I set on the walk to the Sacred Lake. In earnest, I can’t quite remember the last time I did… but I am glad I reconnected with the process, which made me take stock of some of the progress accomplished by our People.
Maybe no one will find this worth writing home about, but among the thousands who congregated to Ganga Talao, I was happy to see tourists who partake in this un-missable spiritual and cultural node… but happier to see locals, of apparent different ‘religious beliefs’, to put it politically correctly. There were mostly young Chinese and Creole Mauritians, or Mauritians of Chinese and African descent (sustaining political correctness here), who appeared to have wanted to share in this tradition too. Some were obviously from the rural areas, others looked more like the trendy settlers of the posh ‘Plaines’… none of which mattered since the idea was one and same. Whether the trek took two days or eight hours, they accompanied friends, believers of a different faith, human beings of another kind, but loved enough to be supported in a moment of spiritual endeavour. That, made me truly happy. That, I call progress.
Perhaps where the pilgrimage should also progress is in a more practical manner, with people encouraged to actually walk from (let’s say) the junction of La Marie. Vehicles carrying old, sick or disabled people should be the only ones allowed beyond the Pétrin parking lots (and I mean with Police authority). I personally think the long queues from La Brasserie road and beyond were a terrible waste: time, petrol, patience and spiritual solace could have been saved by engaging on the walk from that point on to the Sacred Lake. I salute the young couples pushing the baby-buggies, the families who did the wheelchair relay along the way, the young children (including mine) who braved the unknown and embarked upon what is a lot more than a mere long march.
I loved getting there and watching this blurred assemblage of people, bent over the water, breaking their ‘cocos’, pinning their sandalwood sticks into bananas, spreading flowers, joining hands… greeting, asking, thanking. I didn’t ask for anything. I just basked in the moment… I inhaled the fumes of the perfumed sticks, lent my ear to the mumbling and the chanting, opened my hands to receiving refreshments and my heart to Divine Love. Picture perfect, indeed!
There is Progress in our People. I think that above the daily diatribes of the negative, the seditious stories and every distortion that some enjoy dwelling on, our Mauritian People has made much progress… breaking ground much further than the Sacred Lake. Unfortunately, these unsettle us in our ways… they are not contentious enough for our liking, not controversial enough to soar. Perhaps it is our own subversive nature we need to reflect upon… perhaps whilst we engage on another long walk…