Friday, October 2, 2020

Spiritual Tour of Prayag-Kashi-Gaya

Tourism in India has mostly been associated with spirituality. Most of my travels with family as a kid were to temples and it always followed the same pattern. The day starts with no-onion-no-garlic-no-rice based breakfast followed by some religious activity. After the prasadam for lunch we would visit a museum or park or zoo or a water body so that we kids did not complain. The day ended with street food or dinner at a hotel where we could order the dishes which were not available in our village. Those were the days when I would just tag along without getting involved in planning the trip! Well, this trip in March 2020 was something similar for me (Yes, 2 weeks before the infamous lockdown). The main agenda was visiting temples and performing some rituals along with exploring our religious heritage. Then of course my side project of savoring some of those mouth watering street foods.

Let me start with giving some background on this trip. My uncles had decided to immerse my grandmother’s asthi (ashes/remains after cremation) in the Ganga and also perform the Kshetra Shraddha at the holy cities of Prayag (Allahabad), Kashi (Varanasi) and Gaya. While this was being planned, I expressed my interest to join them. The trip was entirely planned by our family priest who accompanied us and took care of all the arrangements. So in this blog I will hold off on explaining what and why of the rituals and focus on our itinerary and some tips in case you plan to visit them on your own.

Ganga Arathi in Varanasi