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Faith in the time of strife

Swapnil Bhumkar embarked on the Amarnath Yatra when the agitation began. This is his diary

Sri Ganganagar was where we came across our first langar, where free food is distributed to anyone and everyone. We were in Jammu, six of us, on the way to Amarnath, and beyond. The amazing thing about the Amarnath langars is that the food is not just clean, but also delicious. The sevaks urged us to eat more and stuffed our plates with Puris and Kheer.

The weather was very humid and we were sweating like dogs. A friend had called us after watching the news reports on television about tension in Jammu. All we could notice is that the streets seemed unusually empty. Very few vehicles and very few men without uniform. We stopped at the Radha Krishna Mandir, an unofficial camp site for yatris in the middle of a very busy street which was empty because of a bandh.

Among the sadhus were Batuk Hanuman Maharaj, who wanted to trek barefoot to the ice Shivling, Ganeshdas Baba, a priest from a Malegaon, Maharashtra, and Hari Om Baba from Kashi, who said he was an LLB. The urban opinion about sadhus is that they smoke pot all day and do nothing. Let me tell you, their schedule is tighter, and rules and principals tougher than that of the military. It takes a real man to become a sadhu.

Photograph: Swapnil Bhumkar
Also see: My Kedarnath yatra

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