Sunday, October 28, 2012


Third post for the day.

I've said before, the moon has never been as significant to me as it has been of late. Rather, I now realise that it has always been significant but I had not noticed. 

Isn't it curious how some things never come your way and when they do, they tend to come in bunches of three - a new word, or a concept or a piece of trivia? I had never heard about the Sahasra Chandra Darsanam – it had never been done in my family – but a friend told me last year that her family was going to have a pooja and a gathering to mark her father-in-law’s turning 83 and a few months. It was to celebrate a point where he had experienced a thousand cycles of the moon in his lifetime. Then another colleague of my father's turned a 1000 moons and then my Guru mentioned it. Not that you need to have seen a thousand full moons with your eyes, he specified, knowing perhaps that many of the fools that he looks after stay hunched over their petty lives, instead of looking up at something profoundly amazing simply because it happens every month. The body apparently has its own way of experiencing the ebbs and flows of the world around it. Once it has known a thousand lunar cycles, the human system alters in a few ways, making it easier to shed your karma – or that's how I understood it.

But it is no hardship to look at the moon. And when a full moon coincides with your travels, well, sona on top of suhaaga. It happened in Zambia. (Where I was not able to take the Rainbow Walk, which takes you to the Victoria Falls by moonlight and, if you're lucky, gives you a glimpse of the Moonbow - a rainbow refracted by moonlight.) But I was happy enough to be in a lovely cabin by the expansive River Zambezi under a full moon. It was light when I sat to meditate in the lounger outside; when I came to, it had darkened to deep purply ink, the moonlight glistened off the choppy waters and it was so beautiful. I have no picture of that sadly, and I doubt any lens of mine could’ve done justice.

A month later, my incredible luck saw me in Srinagar. As the moon waxed, we saw it every day – rising from behind craggy mountain frames, as we stood about this Mughal garden and then the next as darkness fell… 

From Chashm-e-Shahi Gardens, Day 1

From Nishat Bagh, Day 2

On our third day there, we were in Gulmarg, making our way back (rather late) to the parking lot where our anxious driver awaited the posse of women he was in charge of. As we walked back, there were these views.
Strolling down the lanes of Gulmarg, Day 3

As we drove back to Srinagar, the world had turned monochrome. Only blue-black and silver seemed to exist; we turned bend after bend to a new view as the dappled woods stood bathed in moonlight. I had not seen trees throw shadows that sharp at night.

On the fourth day, we had a party on top of a houseboat. The full moon was on time, voices carried this way and that over the water, sounds of paddles sloshing, and in the distance, traffic on the road.
Full moon over Srinagar from HB Hilton on the Dal, Day 4. Pic: Nishat Fatima

You can’t hold moonbeams, of course, but now and then, you come close enough.