Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Head Gear

I visit a Gurudwara (Sikh shrine) on Sunday mornings more or less on a regular basis and some times also in the evenings. The congregations are held twice a day at predesignated time. I try and reach the place well in time to avoid walking in at the fag end of the proceedings.

One day when i went to the Gurudwara to attend the evening session, i got considerably delayed due to some unavoidable reasons. I parked my car and hurried up the slope leading to the shrine. As I was mentally preoccupied not to miss the 'Ardaas' -- the final prayer of the day-- which was about to start, I forgot to cover my head. One has to keep one's head covered in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book) as per the Sikh 'maryada' (tenets). The covering of head particularly in Hindu, Sikh and Muslim religions is associated with paying respect, though the members of some communities in India as well, as in some other parts of the world, take off the head gear and uncover the head to pay respect.

Inside the Gurudwara that I had entered bareheaded, the 'Granthi' (priest) was reciting hymns from Guru Granth Sahib. As I was taking a bow before the holy book, he looked at me through the gap between his eyebrows and the rims of his spectacles giving me a stern look. I could not interpret the meaning of his look. As I was walking back to take my seat in the gathering, I saw a few devotees frowning at me. One of them, who was sitting in a corner and was busy reading the extracts of Guru Granth Sahib from a small booklet called 'Gutka', independently of the proceedings going on in the Gurudwara, rushed out to fetch a small piece of cloth for me to cover my head. In most of the Gurudwqaras generally the cloth pieces, properly done up in square or triangular shapes, are kept on a stand for those bare headed devotees, who may like to use them for covering their heads. By this time one of the devotees pointed towards my head and I realised my mistake and promptly took out handkerchief from my pocket and covered my head. I sat down amongst the devotees with embarrassment writ large on my face. I knew that I was in for an admonishment from the priest as well, as from some self styled moral policeman at the end of the proceedings.

The 'Granthi', completed the necessary rituals of the 'Ardaas' and the 'mukhwaak'. Mukhwak is a shloka which is read out by the priest from the holy book at the end of the prayers, popularly known as 'hukamnama' or the divine order. After the distribution of 'prasad', the ' granthi' who was respectfully called 'Baba Ji' by the devotees, came straight towards me and sat down. Some other devotees were still present there. Generally for the evening sessions, the number of devotees is far less as compared to the mornings. As i prepared myself to listen to the moral lecture, he started narrating a story to us.

Once Majnu, the lover boy of the 'Laila Majnu' love affair fame, was on his way to meet his beloved Laila. He was so engrossed in his thoughts about meeting her that he nearly bumped into a person who was offering 'Namaaz'(the Muslim way of offering prayers at designated time by spreading a sheet and facing the westerly direction at any convenient corner of even a public place, in case there is no mosque nearby). The man stopped his 'Namaaz' in between and ran after Majnu and asked him that why he had crossed in front of him and had disturbed his 'Namaaz'. Majnu, who was also a Muslim, promptly apologised and explained that he was so much lost in the thoughts of his beloved that he did not even notice that some one was offering 'Namaaz' there. But in the same breath Majnu asked the 'Namaazi' that if he was offering his prayers with true devotion, then how did he notice that some one had walked in front of him. The 'Granthi' then went on to explain further that when we pray, we should connect with the Divine in true sense of the term and should not bother about our surroundings. Citing the example of Majnu in the story, he told the audience that Majnu's love for Laila was more intense and sublime than the 'Namaazi's devotion for God.

After finishing his sermon he looked meaningfully at the person who had rushed outside to get the cloth for me to cover my head and once again gave me a glance, but this time with a smile.
I felt relieved.


Mampi said...

bahut achey....
loved the anecdote.

Balvinder Singh said...

thank you Manpreet

Annie said...

Balvinder ji,

Bohat Alla. :)

Balvinder Singh said...

Annie, bohat bohat shukriya, honsla afzaayee lyee.