A Series of Unexpected Blessings in Bhuvaneswar
Friday, 15 January early morning after a short morning meditation with Sri Kumar, a bus brought a group of us to the airport. While most of them set out to their journey home, we were a group of 5 persons who flew to Bhubaneswar, the capital of the Indian state of Odisha (Orissa), starting a small pilgrimage for 4 days.
A driver from the hotel came to pick us up but his car was too small for our luggage. So he organised some colleague and soon we were driving through the city to our hotel, our stay for the next 4 days. The breakfast was also our lunch and pre-dinner. Around four o’clock, when the temperature came down, we started our tour walking along a busy road and entered a nearby temple. They were just opening again and we got the blessing of the deities there, being decorated by the priests with red and orange colours on our forehead – it was quite difficult in the evening to wash the colours away, not only the towel became a witness of it.
After a chai at a street coffee shop – boiled with glowing coals – we took an auto rickshaw to bring us to the Sri Ramakrishna Mission. The buildings were surrounded by a beautiful old garden, where the dusk slowly took away the colours. It was quite a contrast to come into this silent, serene ambiance from the noise of the city with the continuous noise of motors and horns. We had a beautiful meditation in the prayer hall and then continued to a nearby temple area.
We came into a road fantastically decorated with beautiful cotton lanterns. And there we saw in front of the Mukteswar temple that the second day of the 3 days Music and Dance Festival was to start in a quarter of an hour at the temple compound, free entry, organised by Odisha Tourism. We were thrilled when we entered the huge compound of the Shiva-temple: Around the temple a big stage was set up. A huge lighting system stood there, cameras to air the show to All India TV – and fantastic light decorations in the trees and bushes. The air was filled with incense to chase away the mosquitoes. We got places in the VIP section not far away from the stage. And soon a huge choir (Dheeraj Mohapatra & Group) in beautiful costumes started with an invocation to Shiva, the Lord of Dance. If was followed by Odissi solo, duet and group dances – outstanding performances with sublime artists of dance and music – we were very deeply touched to be at this presentation in such an incredibly beautiful surrounding of the over thousand years old temple. The dance celebrations were at Makara Sankranti, the traditional lunar winter solstice celebrated from 14 to 16 January.
Afterwards we went to see some other smaller temples in the surroundings. And also there the trees were filled with lampions. Then we were invited to receive a beautiful free Thali dinner sitting on carpets under the trees of a temple – a family had sponsored it on the occasion of a celebration for their young son, which is being done when the child is 4 months and 4 days old.
Then we came into a craft shop where exquisite handicraft was being sold. We saw palm leaf writings, very well done statues and very subtle artwork on a kind of cloth on tamarind backing. Two friends of mine hand a long talk with the owner, a Sai Baba devotee, and finally bought two images.
When we returned to the hotel, we felt overwhelmingly blessed by the sequence of unexpected blessings we experienced during the day.