The Night of Shiva in Mauritius

 

In spiritual life, each aspirant seeks and appeases his spiritual hunger according to his belief, taste or talent. 

Grand Bassin, dotingly called ‘Ganga Talao’, is a Crater Lake situate in a secluded mountain area in the South of Mauritius. Nestled deep in the core recess of the heart of the island, Grand Bassin is recognized as a sacred lake and a replica of the Holy Ganges by the Hindu populace.  Every year, thousands of pilgrims from the four corners of the island converge to its precincts; they collect the sacred water of the lake, to offer to Lord Shiva, on the occasion of Maha Shivratree or ‘The Night of Shiva’. This year, the Night of Shiva is celebrated on 24 February. Zealous pilgrims from the north, the east and the west have started to trek to the south since Friday last, blessed by the intermittent drizzles of the rainy season.

 

ODE TO SHIVA

 

Graceful, gorgeous white skinned Lord!

You wear the moon on your head,

You are the elixir of life,

Remover of pain and suffering;

 

Immutable, powerful three-eyed Lord!

You are the embodiment of light,

Bestower of joy and ecstasy,

Destroyer of darkness and ignorance;

 

My song is a prayer to you,

My dance is worship to you,

My body is your temple,

My soul belongs to you!

Anita Bacha

Illustration/Photography/ Anita Bacha

Illustration Video/ Courtesy of Flying Freaks Aerial Cinematography

 

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ROASTED CHESTNUTS

The woody scent of roasting chestnuts fills my whole being again, after decades and so far away from Europe; I am at One Utama shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur; memories of my student days flashed in front of my open eyes like a collage of eventful occurrences.

It was my first winter in London.

In those times,the days were extremely short and dark.Snow piled up in heaps on both sides of the roads as my friend,Baba, and I struggled to pave our way to Holborn tube station.
Curbed into two,shivering under my winter coat, a whiff of browning nuts made me jerk. I turned to my friend and asked –
” What’s the scent?’
“Roasting chestnuts” he replied, as he gestured with his chin at a black silhouette in the corner of the street.
I could vaguely make out,in the distance,a man or a woman, shabbily dressed, occupied in front of a stove of burning charcoals.A light smoke raised as a cloudy mist around the stove, danced playfully in the icy air.
We crossed the road.
The alluring scent of roasted chestnuts swelled my nostrils.
Baba bought a small paper bag of piping hot chestnuts and ceremoniously offered it to me.
I tasted the first roasted chestnut of my life and I spontaneously became fond of this soft and delightful delicacy.

Baba took up a job at Knightsbridge for end of term and Christmas vacation.
Among other lovely Christmas gifts, which he offered to me,I found a luxuriously wrapped box of ‘marrons glacés’ from Harrods.

After our law studies, we parted. We did not keep in touch but I still love chestnuts,roasted,candied or steamed.

It’s amazing how the sound of music or the whiff of a scent can bring to our mind souvenirs of cherished instances that we carry inside us and which,possibly none of us actually knows is there.

Anita Bacha

AUTOGRAPH 

When we write,we inscribe what we know 

When we read, we discover what we do not know.

Jonathan Rabb, the American author, was pleasantly surprised.I queued up for his autograph at the BEA 2016.

 “You are a published poet!”he exclaimed when I showed him my poetry book. “Where can I find your book?”

I pointed to the Combined Book Exhibit at the entrance of the book fair.

I devoured his proof in one gulp.His book ‘Among the Living’ was not published yet. A captivating love story of unequal beauty…set up in a land unknown to me until I came to the last page.

Books 

“Books underpin the spread of knowledge,stories and experiences.Never have book people and cultural professionals been more important than they are today.” Heinrich Riethmuller, President of the German Publshers &Booksellers Association.