Being There ~ Reflections of a Pilgrim

Letter 6 ~ Symbols

There are many views of India; about any one of which a photojournalist could do an entire study, but of all the many heart-piercing sights that stay with you, perhaps two of the strongest symbols of the spirit of India are the bells and the chai stalls.

Bells are ubiquitous in India. They are a symbol of the heart, of devotion, of puja (worship ceremonies). A bell hangs at the entrance to most temples and every visitor, from lifted toddlers to the aged, rings the clapper – some say to wake the gods, some say to announce ones presence, some say to stir the heart.

A bell is constantly ringing throughout the Aarti services, especially at sundown. For the adept, that ringing sets up a vibration that transcends the physical and prepares the heart for the reception of God contact. A welcome bridge from one state of consciousness to another; from avidya (false knowledge) to adhihara (readiness).

Chai stalls dot the country side; humble and somehow comforting, stopping for chai is a cultural experience and gives the opportunity to look around rather closely from one vantage point, chat with the locals, and observe a segment of village life in a way not possible while in transport.

A world apart from Starbucks!! A raggedly garbed, weathered man, with a warm smile that presents many spaces where teeth used to be, hands you a small dubious-looking glass or tin cup with brimming hot chai, and you are grateful beyond measure, not only for the chai, but for the opportunity to be sharing this moment with him -- and usually also with his father and son and a few of the neighbors and dogs ~ and in some places perhaps with a goat, a pig, and/or a couple of cows! ...Blessed India!!


With you in Guruji's Perfect and Constant Care,


© Brenda Roberts 2021