Ever since Pranav learnt to walk, he and his sister had gone to the Sunday morning walk month after month for many years. With no weekend duty or fieldcamp as a NS man, he was free and initiated the idea to join this month’s walk. “It was wonderful to go back after so long and be welcomed so warmly… it really felt like going to a family reunion”, Pranav remarked as we made our way back home from the Sunday morning walk in April.
All Sunday morning walks are special in their own ways. This month’s walk at Bishan Ang Mo Kio Park, coincided with the Ching Ming Festival. It is known as the festival to pay respects to the ancestors. As the park is right next to Tse Tho Aum Temple, the day started with traffic congestions at the meeting point on Sin Ming Avenue. But that did not deter most of us who turned up for the walk. We were cheerful as if we were there for a spring outing, which by the way is another significance of Ching Ming festival. (I love Asian Traditions as they find a reason to cheer even on a solemn day.)
Ananya, Deepika, Anjali and Sophia had all grown up since we last saw them. As they chattered and rushed off to the play area, (reminded me of the days when Pranav and Pradeeptha used to do the same), the rest of us started the walk. The park looks like a green lung in a concrete jungle with Marymount Road as the sternum. There are two parts to the park with lots of activity areas for man and dog alike. With Buddhist temples nearby it is only appropriate to have lotus ponds in the park. There were two of them, one in each section of the park and are nice spots for photography, meditation and tai chi. It’s very calming if you stopped and watched the bees play hide and seek between lotus petals. In a calming place, would commerce be far behind? This is Singapore. We soon walked past a spa, and many eateries inside the park. Eateries also reminded us of the treat that awaited us at Krishnamurthy uncle’s residence. It was time to head to his home.
There was a warmer welcome at his house, as many more who missed the walk joined the prayer session. The readings providentially have the most appropriate message for the reader (and listeners too). Pranav and I were both touched by the words he opened to read, “See how little outer circumstances matter… The only duty is not to let oneself be troubled by anything.” Ananya and Deepika chanted Chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita, Visvarupadarshana yoga (The Vision of the Universal Form). My experience can be best summarised by paraphrasing verse 14 that they chanted, “...vismayavisto hrsta-roma… pranamya sirasa devam krtanjalir…” which roughly translates as ‘filled with wonder, astonishment, and surprise, with hair standing on end, bowed down the head to the Supreme Lord’. Krishnamurthyji and Ramanathanji then provided us with a transition from the other worldly experience (Visvarupa) to this world by chanting Bhagya Sukta, a Vedic hymn for prosperity, good luck, and success, all of which we needed in abundance for the month ahead. The delicious and sumptuous south Indian spread laid out by Jayalakshmiji and Swati reminded us of the immense pleasures to be enjoyed in this world itself.