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Pundit Ramesh Tiwari s 18th
pilgrimage to India in July, was his
last. The 71-year-old head of the
Edinburgh Hindu Temple in
Chaguanas said he wants to spend
his twilight years focusing on the
development of the temple and
doing even more devotional work
in the community.
Tiwari said pilgrimages over the
years have brought many devotees
closer to their religion but he believes
this year s was the best as the group
was able to visit sacred sites as far
north as Kashmir and Chennai in
the deep south.
The pundit first visited India in
1991 to order murtis (religious mar-
ble images) in Jaipur where he spent
three weeks looking after all the
arrangements for shipping. He start-
ed taking the pilgrimages in 1995
because devotees has thia burning
desire to see religious places in scrip-
tures. Tiwari believed that as the
leader of the Temple, he should take
the lead in fulfilling the expectations
of the devotees.
The hectic three-week tour that cul-
minated on July 27, saw devotees visit
India s holiest rivers---the Ganges and
Yumana. The participants did devotions
and participated in afternoon prayers in
the holy towns of Haridwar and
Rishikesh, both located on the banks of
In south India, the group visited
shrines in Trichi and Madhurai. They
also visited the famous Dal Lake and
travelled by train to the Golden Temple
in Amritsar, near the border between
India and Pakistan.
Tiwari has seen most of the religious
sites highlighted in the Hindu scriptures.
He pointed to the Akshardham Temple
of the Gujaratis in Delhi and said it is
one of the "most awesome sights" in
"Bathing in the holy Ganga and wit-
nessing the evening Aarti is a must for
every Hindu visiting India," Tiwari said.
"Mathura and Brindaban are also
notable places where Hindus revere the
Avatar of Lord Krishna, as well the Holy
Rameshwaram where Shri Rama held a
thanksgiving pooja to Lord Shiva for his
guidance in the battle against Ravana.
It is also said this is the spot where the
Setu Bridge referred to in the holy
Ramayan, is built by Shri Hanuman, Nal
and Neel that connects Rameshwaram
to Sri Lanka."
The pilgrims also visited the flower
gardens of Kashmir, slept in the House-
boats on the Dal Lake, rode in the Gon-
dolas and took the 10,000 feet high cable
car ride near the mountainous Sri Nagar.
Amritsar s Golden Temple is always
an attraction for pilgrims who are always
eager to see the changing of the guard
where both Indian and Pakistan show
off their military talents and exceptional
drumming skills. Some of the Trinis
couldn t resist the drumming and took
the chance to do some chutney dancing.
Tiwari said, "The tallest Shiva Lingam
in the world provided the Shakti or spir-
itual lift to the pilgrims as we visited
Thanjore as well as the 30-foot sleeping
Vishnu in Trichy---the only one of its
kind in the world.
"These were some of the amazing
undated religious artefacts of the Hindu
religion that bring tourists, historians
and pilgrims of every race to India,"
The journey was worth the effort for
seasoned traveller Boodram Ramoutar,
69, who has been to India 14 times. He
feels, however, that too many of the reli-
gious places of interest in India have
become too commercialised.
"In this day and age everyone is look-
ing to make money," he said.
It was the first visit to India for pho-
tographer Vindra Gopaul-Boodan who
felt it was a good experience for her to
visit the land of her forefathers.
"Apart from the pesky hotel staff
demanding tips for everything and the
unsightly unmentionable experiences
on the trains, it was good to see India
from a perspective of being a child with
Indian and European ancestry.
"I am really glad to see India progress,
but even more delighted that the inden-
tured immigrants took the bold leap and
decided to come to T&T to work in the
sugar plantations, we in T&T are so
much different from the relatives we
have in India. In T&T we have so much
more opportunities than a lot of people
in India, especially educational oppor-
tunities for women to advance. Unfor-
tunately, we were not allowed to take
photos at many of the places where we
stopped, all we remain with are mem-
She added, "Some people have said
at times that there is poverty in India,
but I did not see poverty, I saw a country
where everyone works, the work ethic
is so much different than that of T&T
so we cannot adopt an ethnocentric
view. Life is a daily hustle, for the Indians,
if you are a beggar you have to get up
early to catch the worm in a country
that seems at times to be filled of magical
madness especially in a sea of traffic.
"For me the journey was worth it and
it is sad that this is the last pilgrimage
hosted by Pundit Tiwari because he was
very versed in explaining the cultural
and religious aspects of some of the
shrines we visited."
Pundit Ramesh Tiwari with Vindra
Gopaul-Boodan in Kashmir. PHOTO
COURTESY: VINDRA GOPAUL-BOODAN
Pundit calls time on
Devotees worship a statue of the Hindu god Lord Hanuman at
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