Source: Charvee NoSurname
It was just an unexpected dream that I saw myself making a journey to a place I never knew about. It wasn’t long after that dream that I actually began to ‘picture’ myself making that journey. And then came that glorious day, 28th December, 2012, I must not forget to say, exactly an year since I found out about the existence of this place, that I was able to get there. One might name it as ‘coincidence’ but I shall call this ‘magic’, Gods magic! They say it is not always easy to make religious journeys possible without any pain, rightly said in my case as well.
It was one incredibly cold morning in Kurukshetra, Haryana, when I left my campus at seven in the morning to travel approximately 180 kilometres to Qadian, Punjab. According to my estimations, I should’ve reached there within six hours and well, yes I wasn’t even mid way within that time limit.
Travelling to Qadian was a journey that pretty much drew an image of my childhood days in front of me. Punjab has always been the love of my life, yet I had never imagined that I’d travel to the tiniest and the not-so-popular villages all by myself.
Watching the beautiful fields under the grey sky, tractors carrying sugar canes, seemed like one beautiful movie! In the midst of my movie, I was planning in my mind to change at Ludhiana bus stop for Jalandhar and then to Gurdaspur district from where Qadian shouldn’t be too far, my mind said to me. And, my thoughts were nowhere near accurate! I did not have enough words to thank God after I managed to reach Qadian after an unbelievable twelve hours!
There was a point when all I wanted was to reach ‘safely’. Yes, when a female uses the word ‘safe’ we all know what she means! I was almost on the verge of tears until I could hear Gurbaani (Verses from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji) playing in the background and Magrib prayers coming from a distant mosque. It was that moment when I knew, God was with me and no bad could happen.
Being in Qadian was a lot more exquisite than the journey or my dream. I ran and hugged my friend coming from Rabwah, Pakistan as soon as I saw her and the first words she said to me were:
“bewakuuf sarr dhakk” (Cover your head, idiot!);
…that’s when I understood why people were staring at me earlier!
The rest of the evening concluded with great food, a heavenly atmosphere and of course gigantic hugs by aunties and a long night of gossips!
One thing, I must not forget to say, Pakistanis talk a lot!!!
Minart-ul-Maseeh at Night
The first glimpses of Qadian that shall remain in my depths of my mind forever came in the form of Qadian Darul Aman. Watching the Minar stand tall invoked a sense of enchantment to say the least. Finally, came the time when I had to register myself to be able to attend the Jalsa, an annual convention. I refuse to use the phrase ‘Muslim’ convention, because the purpose of the event was a lot beyond that. The second time I stepped out the house, extra special care was taken whilst covering my head! Explaining the lady at the reception desk of the registration table wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. The only creepy question worrying them was how on earth a woman from Kurukshetra got friends with another one from Rabwah, well, we made them familiar to a person called Twitter at the end of that conversation!
The next morning, 29th December, 2012, was the reason why people crossed borders and few like me bunked lectures for! It was the day one of the Jalsa. Facing the light rain and the freezing winds were thousands of people rushing towards the site where the event was to be held.
Banner_Jalsa Salana Qadian 2012
Jalsa Salana Qadian commenced with a rather loud yet composed chant of ‘Allah hu Akbar’ (‘God is the greatest’). Salams began to get exchanged; verses from the Holy Quran were recited. Lectures by Islamic scholars were given In Urdu which had translators for people speaking Bangla, Tamil, Telegu and Indonesian. Not every day does one get to see a long bearded man praising Lord Krishna, Guru Nanak Dev Singh, Buddha and Lord Rama giving a lecture, in front of a crowd of thousands that shared the same feelings. Such were moments of awe. The first day at Jalsa highlighted that the need of such events wasn’t just to glorify and spread one religion; rather it focussed more on the integration of people from different backgrounds and cultures. It concluded with lectures from female scholars focussing on the importance of bringing up children in a healthy and peaceful environment.
We left the Jalsa-Gah in the evening at around six. Then began the worse part of my visit, making up my mind to get back home the next day morning! It was a hard decision to make, indeed. The shopping and browsing of the market, scanning through the posters on the walls saying ‘Love for all, hatred for none’ in dozens of different languages, visiting the mosque, Baitul-Dua’, remain the most memorable times of my visit.
My last night stay of a two day long visit was emotional. The hugs from aunties were still gigantic but I could just feel the extra dose of love in them! The best moments were when little kids, would come over again and again to say goodbye. To be really honest, I’m not sure which ‘one’ moment was the best, the first impressions of Qadian Darul Amaan, the lovely, welcoming people, the bazaars or the mosque or praises by the people from Pakistan that they were glad to see Sikhs outside the Jalsa-Gah for security . Divine, would be the perfect word to describe it all.The next morning journey required me to be up and out of the house at four, yet the chit-chats between my friend and me were never ending!The day morning walk to the bus stop brought a flashback of the first time I walked through the same lane. The street was full of people, brightly lit up, security men and helpers everywhere. This time, they were empty and stranded. I can never forget that one last hug to my friend or those blessings by everyone. Travelling from Qadian to Kurukshetra took roughly seven hours, this time. Yes, I did make a mistake whilst changing buses earlier!
One more unique thing that gave me goose bumps in Qadian was the way the morning would start with the call for the Azaan prayers, then the bells in a Hindu temple nearby could be heard and then the Asa Di Vaar (morning path) in the Gurdwara would proceed. All in an order! That sums up Qadian for me! The journey back from Qadian reminded me of my grand dad, a non-Muslim born in Pakistan, in an Islamic culture with a Sikh and Hindu heritage,
‘Jab Diwali Maen Ali aur Ramadan maen Rama, Toh kon Hindu aur kon Musalman?’
(How do you differentiate between a Hindu and Muslim when there’s an Ali in Diwali and Rama in Ramadan?)