“Madam, come this way if you want to see Bheema nee Ghantee ”.
I am in Gujarat. As part of our official work the team is visiting two villages today to document process of two development initiatives in tribal areas. Everything is arranged in advance. A day before the team asks ‘whether we can visit Jambughoda, few kilometers away from our work area, during this field visit". “What is there to see?” I ask casually. “Oh! A huge idol of Hanuman!” explains one of my colleagues. Then he hastily adds, “The forest around is cool and you would definitely enjoy the place. It is actually a sanctuary.” When the whole team wants to visit the place, there is no point in saying ‘no’ especially when it is not going to affect our work.
We are in Panchamahal district, about 70 kilometers from Vadodara. On the way, we cross Pavagadh. It is a hill fortress and capital of a 16th century princely state. We do not visit it, but the place seems to be a good site to visit. The advertisement boards on the road inform us that there is even 'rope way' facility to visit the fort.
We visit Zand Hanuman. What is the meaning of Zand, I am not able to understand, may be it means HUGE. Lots of Mahua trees on the way, their fragrance is maddening. We watch tribal people collecting Mahua flowers. They earn a little income by selling those flowers. Now the forest is not green naturally, but the air is cool. I can imagine what the scenario must be in the post monsoon period. But even in the month of March – April – May, forest has its own beauty.
The 21 feet Hanuman idol is beautiful. Photography is strictly prohibited here, so I do not open my digicam. The driver of our car, a local person tells me that during the 13th year of agnyaatavaasa (‘incognito’ stay), the Pandavas stayed here. He also narrates a story that Arjun with his bow and arrow created a flowing water stream to quench their thirst. The stream has completely gone dry now, but during monsoon it is powerful flow. How Hanuman (from Ramayana) comes and fits into the ‘Pandava’ place is my curiosity, the driver and other colleagues laugh at this question. When one cannot answer, one laughs – that is the strategy almost each one of us uses.
Next is ‘Bheema nee Ghantee’! Though I understand Gujrati well enough, somehow I am thinking about a ‘huge bell’ which may be only Bheema could use. So when I come across Bheema nee Ghantee I am disappointed for a moment. But then I realize my mistake of mixing Hindi, Gujrati and Marathi and smile. Because what I see is a huge grinding stone. Looking at its size it appeares to be Bheema's grinding stone!
During the 13th year of ‘agnyaatavaasa’, Bheema worked as a chef – ballavacharya. May be, this Ghantee then was used by him. So, is this ancient Keechaka kingdom? I do not know. The best option seems to be ‘internet search’. It is funny that now- a days I get more information about my country through internet!
I find so many stones around. “What is this?” I ask. My team is slowly getting used to my questions and they try their best to satisfy me. “Here, one builds imaginary house with the help of stones lying around. If this house remains stable, you get a similar house in your real life. Your wish of having your own house is fulfilled.” My colleagues ‘build’ – two storied, three storied, five storied houses in a childlike enthusiasm!
Many religious places have such stories built around them. I look at my colleagues and see a dream, a hope in their eyes. Suddenly, I realize that all this is not just a superstition; it is a kind of motivation for those who are homeless, who have to live in rented house all their life. I look at the ‘houses’ in the area and realize that so many of us need some hope, some encouragement that life in future would be much better. I am deeply touched by this phenomenon. Though I do not build a home there, I do not laugh at others. I wish that all those people and everyone else should have a home to live happily.
We return. On the way we have seen a number of police personnel. I smile at couple of them and ask “Is any VIP visiting today?” One officer smiles but does not answer. I add, “I understand if you do not give me information. Just curious because I have seen so many of your colleagues on the way.” The second officer decides to share the information. “The Chief Justice (of Gujrat) is visiting. Good you came early here. Now the Chief Justice would be here any minute. If you were late, you would have to wait for half an hour.”
We are happy that we came before the VIP visit. The police are not harassing anyone, but they are taking extra precaution, which is well understood and appreciated. As we start, we see a convoy of vehicles approaching the temple. I count those. One, two .. there are twenty one vehicles. The whole district machinery is geared up for this visit. It is easy to separate pilot vehicle from the vehicle of the VIP. We are informed that the Chief Justice is in Jambughoda for inauguration of court building. I do not take photograph, obviously as I am not a press photographer!
So, like us, the Chief Justice is combining pleasure and work. But I cannot help thinking about ‘who bears the cost of such pleasure trips?’ The answer is known and we have accepted that.
I do not know whether the VIP guests also went to Bheem nee Ghantee and built their dream house there! May be, they did not because like me they too are privileged with a home! May be we are not innocent enough like all those people to believe in our own dreams.. we are too rational for such a joy of life! Does it mean that I can afford to be rational only when I am happy? Don't really know!