It was a dark cold night with a strong breeze on 29 Jan 2013 at Amritsar's Ranjit Avenue as we stepped out of the hotel at 3 am. In a few minutes we landed up at the rear entrance of the Darbar Sahib or Golden Temple, as most of the world knows it. Walking barefoot on the white marbled floor across the front of the community kitchen (langar) hall sent a chill up the spine. Clutching the shawl tightly, I was already weighing the possibility of moving without the holy dip at the pool (sarovar). Gliding through the cold water in the 'feet-wash basin’ made me realize that my resilience was better than what I had assumed. As I stood at the centre of the gate (Dwar), the sight of the golden abode held me spellbound with its serenity. As I stepped onto the periphery ‘Parikrama’, I bowed prostrate in reverence, more in submission to the surreal atmosphere. Suddenly, the inertia vanished and I was surprised at the pace at which I shed my clothes and ambled into the pool. The first impact of the cold water on the body was shockingly freezing but the speed did the trick and I was fully submerged in the chilly nectar for a few seconds. The thermal shock turned into a warm strength that enveloped me as soon as I was out. Quickly, I dressed up and moved on with a new found energy. The shining lights and the reflection of the golden aura in the waters coupled with the soulful touching kirtan that wafted across, gave a heavenly feeling to the whole atmosphere. I walked across the Parikrama with quick steps and reached the viewing entrance Darshani Deorhi that is the entrance to the divine islanded temple. The kirtan got more louder as I approached the main temple and the view got closer. As I stepped onto the sanctum sanctorum, I was surprised at the jostling yet silent crowd at that hour. The sight of the holy Guru's empty palanquin (palki) and the kirtan going on did bring about an atmosphere that was charged with divine overawing presence. Slowly, i bowed down to my knees and touched my forehead to the carpet. The moments froze as I felt the urge to remain in that submissive mode for a long time. I brought myself up and walked to the first floor through the narrow curving staircase. Picking up the prayer book (Nitnem Gutka), I sat down close to the railing wherein I could see the empty palanquin from the top. The feeling was as if the time had frozen and there was no sound except the touching kirtan going on. In some time, I finished my prayers and leaned my head on the railings. It felt like I was in God's lap, cocooned from the materialistic Kalyug heat. The warmth of that feeling brought small droplets of tears in my eyes as the 'viraagmayi' kirtan notes turned reclusive and detached. It felt better and more secure than the childhood memories of the warmth of my mother's lap. I was in a stupor and hypnotised by the symphony that the kirtan strings played with my heart chords. Eyes closed, I was trying to live every second through the divine words that were in the air. It felt as if I was just one step away from meeting God. I don't even recall the time that was spent away in the melodious harmony. Soon, the palanquin (Sawari Sahib) of the holy guru was brought in with chants of prayers. We all stood up and the supplication (Ardaas) was performed. The magnificent sight was beholding and gripping. The kirtan resumed after the holy sermons were read out from Sri Guru Granth Sahib. I walked out slowly, took the hot sacred sweet pudding (Karah Parshad) from the volunteer (Sewadar) swaying to the kirtan beats unconcerned of the chilly breeze blowing on his face. As I was walking out, I felt dissapointed that it was only a couple of hours that I could spend at the Golden Temple. ~ by a Passionate Idiot