Thursday, March 03, 2011
PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS : Once a year thousands of devout souls visit the Ganga Talao (pond), one of the holiest sites on the island, situated at Grande Bassin in the south, offer their prayers to Lord Shiva and bring back jal (water) on Sivaratri.
People usually start these preparations more than a month in advance. Before they set out on this journey to the lake and back, on foot, palanquins are taken to the temple near their homes. Pujas are performed, the processon goes and once they reach the Ganga Talao they once again return home. After all the pujas are done, the murtis in the palanquins are disposed of in the sea.
Along the path, there are these generous souls who put up stalls so that pilgrims can rest. They are also offered fruits, juices and vegetarian dishes.
It is the last stretch that seems to be the longest. After six hours of walking, the last 20 minutes is the most difficult -- you see the huge stature of Lord Shiva right in front of you but you never seem to actually reach it. And then finally you do. You say your prayers and move ahead towards the main lake beside which the main Shiva linga is. It takes you another hour or so in line to finally make it there.
The holy water will be poured on the Shiva linga at home or a nearby temple, where major pujas are conducted on the final day.