Trip to Jirang Monastery

As we drove through the country road with trees, hills and valleys on either side, I thought back to our trip that we were just returning from. The dusky hue of the sky, distant mountains, the neverending farmlands, the constant greenery and occasional sight of a vehicle or some villagers with their cattle returning from the farms and a slow song in the background provided a perfect atmosphere for my reverie. 

Our first stop was a deer park having barking deer and a small stream flowing under a small bridge over the rocks. Then, we stopped at Taptapani, a small temple with a hot water spring where the tourists are to wash their feet and hands. The temple itself was not much of an attraction but the sceneries surrounding it were absolutely breathtaking. A path of stone covered with moss overlooking a stream of water gushing down the steps, a stone bridge to cross the stream and trees stretching as far as the eyes could see - simply a beautiful sight for the eyes to behold.

The night has set in with only the moon and our car’s headlights lighting the way ahead leading to our village. The sky is cloudless and completely devoid of stars. Sitting in the backseat, I enjoy the darkness outside, the chilly weather or rather the chilly feeling that generally accompanies the darkness and a song with a meaningful lyrics while recalling our last stop.

The Llama photo bombed in the click!!

After departing from Taptapani,we began the journey to the destination we had been wanting to visit for the past few years - Jiranga, a Buddhist monastery. After years of watching movies and series of Korea, China, Japan and Thailand, visiting Jiranga had us sisters transported to one of those countries. That the place is inhabited by Tibetians only adds to the feeling of being in a Chinese country. Througout the village, one could see coloured rectangular pieces of cloth of varying sizes hanging by the road or on the roofs. The existence of a Chinese community amidst the Odia villages, the Chinese locals communicating in a language they would have had no relation with had they remained in Tibet, seemed fascinating and almost unreal. The village occupied by the Tibetians hardly looks like a typical Indian village full of cows and goats, kachcha houses which are mostly moss-covered and half broken. Instead, there are only pucca houses of concrete and some, of wood. Just like one of those foreign country-side villages shown in the movies.

As for the temple itself, it is difficult to describe it with just words. It was majestic. It was quiet. It was peaceful. The walls full of paintings and the huge statue of Buddha flanked by smaller statues of other deities were intricate as well as insightful. The monks-in-training could be seen running from their dorms with papers(scriptures, perhaps) in their hands, towards the temple just before the prayers start. And the prayers with the beating of drums, chanting of mantras in a language we could not understand, are worth attending. The monks also perform a kind of ‘aarati’ with incense sticks in a style very different from that which we Indians are familiar with. Whereas the ‘pujas’ in Indian hindu temples often give me headaches, that in Jiranga made me want to sit there forever listening to the drum beats and chantings.The peculiarity of it was that they gave small packets of puffcorn, crax, biscuits and chocolates as ‘prashad’. These are donations by the locals of the village. The prayers are performed twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. One of the monks also told us about special prayers and celebrations akin to a festival or ‘pujas’ being performed for an entire month during the months of January and February and a festival that is celebrated in the village for two days during the month.

Once again, we took in the beauty and cleanliness of the place while tracing our way back to the parking area through the same road that led us to the main stupa. Thus ended our long journey to Jiranga.

Our comapanions, long-distance relatives, are right behind us in another car following us back to the comforts of our own city and home.

 I look out to see the silhouettes of the trees and mountains in the dark, slow music still playing in the background.

 Linking the post to #UBC , and #DailyChatter.


Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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