Kaasi yaathrai – Allahabad – Day 1

Finally, here I am with the accounts of my Kaasi Trip. 

When my dad got his invitation and tickets for his client’s son’s wedding in Delhi, he planned to complete his visit to Kaasi and complete the shraddam formalities for his parents (my grandma died 2 years ago). He had already got the sand (Sedhu madhavam) from Rameshwaram. And when he said his plan to me, it was obvious that I would tag along. Who gets these kinds of opportunities? The trip was for almost a week with three days in Delhifor the wedding and then three days for the shradham. After the wedding we started to Allahabad on 26th Feb in Shiv Ganga express and landed in Allahabad@ around 4.30 am (train was 1 hr late). Since the whole package was pre booked with one of the known vaadhiyaar, the accommodation and transport between the places for the shradham formalities were taken care of by them (along with food).
The taxi came @ around 5 am and from there we went to Siva madam for the day’s formalities. Since it was dark we didn’t see much of the city of Allahabad. But as soon as we entered the Siva mdam (மடம் ) , we realized that it wasn’t a mdam actually, but more of a small house opposite a temple which is used for these ceremonies. They had rooms (single rooms and shared bathrooms) which were given to the yatri’s but the rooms were so shabby and untidy that I just couldn’t bear being there. I got a broom from nearby and cleaned it myself. There was no one out there to whom we can ask anything about what the procedure was. Then around 6.30 am a cook came and he made us coffee in the small kitchen that was there. Then we got some hot water from him as it was very cold and got ourselves ready and since my dad and mom were to do the shradham formalities they should not have any breakfast. But I asked him if he could make me some breakfast and he said that he could get me some upma. I hate upma.. but anything is better than nothing.. I was already very hungry. And around 9 am or so the vaathiyaar came and the ceremony started. To be very honest, I never bothered about understanding these ceremonies. I am there to help my mom..that is all. So here too I was just waiting for them to call me in case they need anything like getting the change to be given to the vaathiyaar, to get the cooked rice ( I think there is some name to it) to them so that they don’t have to walk around too much.

Once they were done, since my dad was a sugar patient, they gave my parents some oats kanji and then we were taken to the nearby Veni madhav temple (In Rameshwaram, it’s the Sedhu madhavam temple from where they are supposed to get the sand which has to be dissolved in the triveni sangham) and then from there to the Adi sankarar temple and then to triveni sangham. I cannot imagine a place much dirtier than these places around. Everything other than a lion and a tiger is out on that street and some are dead too. God, can’t they have it a little cleaner.  We went to a sleeping hanuman temple near the Ganges and then took a boat to triveni sangham. It was so huge, but again very dirty. We were going through the Yamuna river and there is so much crowd out there that early. The boat fees is 25 Rs per head and they take you to the junction of Ganga and Yamuna (and the antarvahini Saraswati) and they do the necessary ceremony there like hair cut, giving the veni madhav offerings by the ladies etc and then a dip in the sangham. The difference between the two rivers are so drastic. 

The Ganges looks white, whereas Yamuna looks dark blue most of the places. Yamuna has more waves in it and Ganges is so smooth without any waves in it. There is a clear line of separation in the place where they meet.  The water was almost knee length even though we were quite far away from the shoreline and they asked me to take a dip too. I was very apprehensive and then did a not-too-good-a dip there. Dad went along further more into the Ganges and got 3 cans of water to be distributed to people who asked for it. Once they were done with their pooja’s we started back and reached the Shiva madam and did the rest of the ceremonies. Once that was done, they offered us the devasa saapadu (like what we do @ home) and after that we got ready at around 2 pm to go to Gaya in the car (it would take use 7 hrs). Thankfully the car was Indigo and we had ample space to stretch our legs and so we did not feel that tired in our journey. 
I guess in these places we find beggars in equal numbers to the tourists. I havent been to Rameshwaram, but my family and friends who have been there complained about the uncleanliness out there. But I guess in India, any popular temple is always kept unclean (or may be they just cant handle the crowd well enough to keep it clean.. the exception to some extent being the Tirupathi as far as I have seen) But they could atleast do some management near the triveni sangham. It pains you to see the kind of garbage that floats there. In fact as part of these ceremonies mostly flowers are the only ones offered, but here they cut your hair in the sangham.. If you really have to take a dip , you should go a little far and try to take a dip.

Irrespective of all the bad feel about the way the rivers and the city were maintained, I felt good about taking a dip in the triveni sangham. Naanum gangaiya thotutean :D. My mom was happy that she could do these rituals in her lifetime. And I am happy for her.

Coming up, the important ritual in Gaya.

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