When an Agnostic visits a Sanctum

Scene 1: At Chennai Airport: 1 am, 27th June 2017

Me: Where do we go from here?

MyGoodfriend(MGF): Tirupati

Me: I know that man, but we will go there in the morning by bus.I mean of course, you must have booked an accommodation.

MGF(Unapolegtically): No, We can sleep in the airport

Me: Lounge?

MGF(In a jovial mood): Chairs.Anyways I can sleep anywhere

Me(Not in a good mood): I can`t sleep on chair for 5 hours

MGF(Laughing devilishly): No lounge at Arrival Area

Me: Gosh, No option left then

MGF: Chairs

After this conversation, I somehow managed to find a chair and spent 5 wakeful hours at the airport while MGF was snoring shamelessly at the adjacent chair.I wasn`t an insomniac by birth and but it`s friends like MGF that turned me into one.All I was doing the entire night was staring at the passengers waiting to collect their bags from the belts.After some time I started hating passengers , then belt and then the entire airport.

Finally Sun Rose at 6 am and I left the torture chair and stepped outside the port.I was fully exhausted after 5 hours of staring and MGF was fully energized after snoring for the same time.

MGF(Excited): We will travel by Chennai Metro.I heard Chennai Metro is awesome and World Class(Remember he snored for 5 hours)

Me: Do I have a choice?(That`s why I love solo trips)

Scene 2: Reached Bus Stand and Boarded Bus to Tirupati

I finally felt relaxed thinking now I can rest peacefully for 3 hours.But Sleep and I are never good friends.The Driver before starting the engine, turned on the TV in full volume(Normal for South Indian standards).Guess what movie he tuned into?.”Oh My God”, Yes that was the name of the movie and my reaction as well.A movie that mocks organized religion and here I was, going to visit the most pious sanctum of our country.What an Irony.When an agnostic visits a Sanctum, he is tested may be by God to believe in him and turn him into a theist.God was trying, but I was Stubborn.Continuous relentless loud sound waves coming from 24-inch screen kept me awake again.Finally, after 3 more hours of agony, I was relieved to reach Tirupati Alive.

We took a rickshaw(who of course overcharged us) to my other good friend`s(OGF) place in Tirupati where his marriage was supposed to happen.Met my friend, who was very happy and excited about his marriage(that was strange) and immediately instructed us to visit the Temple(He had bought us Vip tickets in advance to visit the deity).They say God sees everyone as equal.They lied.God favors you If you buy VIP ticket.Mobile phones are not allowed inside the sanctum.So, we left bare souled to the temple by taking a special bus.

I love temples on mountains.The view surrounding the sanctum was simply too good for my eyes to fathom.Security for the temple is higher than that at our borders.At one c heck point,entire bus is evacuated and each passenger is frisked(feels like immigration checks).We reached the place in 30 minutes.I was awestruck first by the crowd and then by the architecture of the temple.

Scene 3: Tirupati Balaji Temple

Let me tell you something about this pious place.Apparently lines to visit Lord Tirupati never actually gets over,24*7, 365 days a year.I know it` s insane.Just for a fleeting second of Lord`s darshan, devotees patiently wait, struggle, fall sick and somehow survive to reach the inner sanctum.One more thing, before entering, You must wear Dhoti(White colored pious cloth to replace Jeans/trousers in South India).”God hates people with jeans”.If you are lucky and bargain well, you will get a Dhoti for 100 bucks.

Now comes the most interesting part: The actual ordeal to reach the inner sanctum

Once you enter the temple, you get free sops(tea/coffee/milk) before you embark on your challenging journey.Once you enter the line, you can’t come out even if you want to.Men, Women, and children of all age groups keep pushing each other to move forward like waves.Children vomit, women nauseate, Men complain but they keep going.To manage such a huge crowd there is a fantastic group of volunteers to ensure devotees get food, water, and any emergency medical aid.There is one group whose purpose is only to push the devotees in the right direction.This is the most professional and well-managed organization I have ever seen.Stop learning from Google and Microsoft, Learn from Tirupati Trust folks.

Sometimes devotees have to wait for days to get a glance of their deity.”Faith can make us do anything”,I wondered.Finally after hours of fighting,pushing,screaming and sometimes yelling we reached the inner sanctum to get a 1 second glance of our deity.

Tirupati Darshan is rewarding both for those who believe in him and those who love sweets.Yes after the drama of worship is done,you are offered a huge laddoo(sweet and delicious dessert for an Indian).No one leaves empty handed from this place.


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