My association with Harimandir Sahib Gurudwara, the birth place of 10th and last guru, Guru Govind Singh ji Maharaj dates back to second half of the last decade of 1980ties (Yes, I’m that archaic), the person who introduced me to it was my loving Granddad who would invariably visit it every evening, all his friend would do so too, after attending the evening Kirtan they would proceed to Ganga ji ( that’s what we call bank of river Ganges in Patna city).
Arial distance from the centre pillar of my ancestral home in Patna city and Gurudwara Sahib is 540 meters and and walking distance, thanks to old and curvy lanes, is about 720 meters .. the distance which is still considered “next door” back home and not to forget mentioning, Guru ka Bagh (the place where Guru ji used to go playing with his friends) is 80 meters from the main exit of my home … you can therefore say, Guru Ji was a regular visitor in of our Mohalla.
Back in the days, When I used to be home on vacation from school, the campus of the Gurudwara used to be the place where we would gather and play all kinds of games .. from badminton to cricket to hide & seek. Those of you who have seen the modern day structure of the temple would find it difficult to digest, then it used to look absolutely different and because the world used to be a much safer place then .. the amount of restrictions on free movement that you experience today weren’t relevant then. Harimandir gali is where Gurudwara is situated, the gali also happens to be place which has arguably the best samosa, chat, phuchka, mathri & jalebis joints of Patna City.
There is a reason why I’m mentioning food here, we grew up in days when telephone and TV sets at home were not things that we had a lot of interest in, mobile phone and internet had yet not invaded lives of people, gaming station meant Mario parlours only and even Steve jobs then didn’t have the idea of either iPhone or iPad, Mark Z. was also moving in his dippers so Facebook hadn’t replaced real friend .. we were the last offline generation growing up among people, who used to gather for playing physically and disperse only after eating whatever we liked – those weren’t the days of electronic payment but we were even then cashless, buying samosa or gulab jamun was a lot easier then, you had to ask the dukaan wale chacha to hand you over your order and he knew exactly which page of his notebook those entries had to go as credit – simple times.
As we grew up and realised the importance of reading and playing in real play grounds, Mangal talab and City school ground replaced Gurudwara campus but we had gotten so used to visiting it everyday, that we would still go for samosas and sometimes to read in the peace of top floor terrace .. we were so frequent there that from priests to support staff of the place, everyone knew us by name and family … this familiarity had it benefits too, Ghee ka Halwa is what you get as prashad if you visit the inner sanctum of the Gurudwara, seasoned with makundana, normal devotees would get a big scoop but we the privileged ones would have generous offering.. two to three portions of Halwa, dripping with ghee every single time, it used to be so rich back then that even viewing it from distance was enough to raise glucose levels in blood of people who eat right by a couple of points. We used to sit down under the fan and relish our halwa with bare hands and lie down on the carpet for 20 minutes and then move… yes such was life.
We grew up and had to move to different cities for higher education and then jobs .. visits become less frequent but whenever we’re home, we still at least once get together at Gurudwara, we are no longer familiar faces there but every corner of the temple knows us and still gives us the same familiar warmth and solace!
Today as the jewel of my city shines bright & I miss being there!
Happy Prakash Parv to all!