Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Send Off in Bikaner

One night in Bikaner I noticed a procession. It was past 9 pm and we were traveling in an autorickshaw. At the head of the procession was one man in his sixties wearing a suit and a garland of marigold. Behind him were around 30-40 men and boys of all ages. A few feet behind the men walked the ladies. One lady in the lead was also wearing a garland of flowers. About two dozen other women and girls were walking along with her. It was a relatively quiet procession with no accompanying music.

“Where are these people going?” I asked our auto-driver.
“Haj, sir. That man and his wife are going to this year's Haj. The people of their community are going up to the railway station to send them off.”

The couple would go to Delhi by the night train, and then fly to Saudi from there. I was impressed that on a workday evening so many people had felt it important enough to walk along to the railway station because two of their community elders were off to Haj.

In a world where a lot of the romance has been squeezed out from travel, it was refreshing to see some people still celebrating a journey with such pride.

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