As pilgrims here, we come at times . . . Walking . . . Stopping . . . Running . . . and Life goes on with us – going, flowing and connecting . . . an energy that flows within and without, building connections with people of all backgrounds….
The “Art of Living” (in Varanasi): Want to see how people, animals and everything else co-exist? Well, you have it all here amidst the traffic in the maze of many dug up roads – people on cycles, in rickshaws, buses & cars moving in narrow lanes, cows grazing past you as you walk in the bylanes and of course people flying kites and enjoying themselves on roof-tops. On these narrow streets, it is the under privileged that has the upper hand if you happen to bump someone with your vehicle. The voices of the public will protect the needy even if he is in the wrong!
Visiting the many temples at Varanasi and witnessing the thirst of the mass of pilgrims for God and for His compassion and mercy was another experience and a realization we are all one as a broken people, thirsting for God to satisfy us. Witnessing the burning pyres on the Ghats on the river banks on one hand, and little children playing in the mud on these same river banks was another reminder that life goes on . . . everything happens there, from birth to death – and also that life is beyond what we see. The elaborate preparation for the Maha-Arti was a reminder to how we all need to come prepared to “worship” everytime. All the sounds, smells and elaborate rituals done in unison made it solemn – a reminder that we are all called to collaborate.
On one hand was a strong Hindu presence at Varanasi and on the other hand was the strong presence of Buddhism at Sarnath. Somewhere near the banks of the river at Varanasi, we find the Kali temple back to back to a Catholic Maria-Mai Ashram (common wall in between). Then we come across the Kashi Vishwanath Temple side by side to a Mosque. Religious places co-existing side by side.
At Varanasi, we InterPlayed with the children at the Nav Vani School for Dumb & Deaf children. No need of language. All we needed was a body. Oh, what a wonderful time we had connecting with them – for 2 hours almost. In many ways we could be dumb or deaf with all our faculties intact! We also InterPlayed with the Youth Leaders and Youth Animators from
various Dioceses of North India at Nav Sadhana Regional Pastoral Centre, Varanasi.
Their response “InterPlay – this is a new tool for learning”. More connections, more peace experienced and a lasting desire to connect more.
A strong desire to dialogue with culture, religions and the marginalized is what the pilgrims in this Peace Pilgrimage experienced. We realized this is possible if we carry LOVE as our partner wherever we go.