It was pre-nocturnal time when we reached the precincts of the Vidyapeetha Mutt. I was on tenterhooks, since it was my maiden attempt at hosting a party in a mutt. After mentally skimming myriad venue options, I had selected this serene place, so as to have some spiritual elements spun into the social event, too. Spouse was simply benighted about the surprise, which I had decided to spring on him as part of his birthday celebrations.
The blustery wind was buffeting my body as I tread around the gate gingerly in my squelching sandals to avoid the slush from intermittent rains splattering on my sari. When I cast my eyes around, I was charmed to see a sprawling car-park, a small bookstore selling spiritual books, sparkling walkways, squeaky-clean temple, all in shipshape condition. This was all thanks to the enterprising duo, the Jr and Sr Pejawar Mutt Swamijis, who, with their unimpeachable dedication, played pivotal roles in the meticulous management of the mutt’s activities.
Then it was time for the spouse to step inside the temple. As he crossed the threshold, he was greeted by strident cheers from legions of his relatives, all waiting with posies of flowers and umpteen gifts. Rekha, his maternal cousin, had even flown down by an evening flight. Indeed, it was heartwarming to behold intense bonhomie among his relatives.
Then the linchpin of the Vidyapeetha Mutt, the dynamic and uber-efficient Sri Keshavachar, known for his pinpoint precision in punctiliously organising social events, made his appearance. He shepherded us to the shrines of Goddess Durga and other deities in the sanctum sanctorum, wherein we witnessed a marathon series of mangalarathis.
The mesmerising sight of oleander, balsam, hibiscus, fire-cracker, chrysanthemum, ocimum, kewda flowers, bedecking the refulgent deities, the perambulating devotees, the clink of hand-held temple bells in sync with the clang of ceiling bells, the electronic dholak beats, the boom of massive cymbals, the rhythmic and reverberating chant of temple priests, the heady fragrance of burning camphor and incense sticks, the coruscating oil wicks ensconced in effulgent earthen lamps that dotted the handrails — all had an enthralling, numinous feel, transporting us into a surrealistic world.
Incidentally, all these activities served as a precursor to the palate-titillating feast ahead! Keshavachar led us to a large hall with comfortable seating arrangements. The actual surprise was the veritable epicurean delicacies. If side-dishes were gastronomic delights, the six sweet items were ambrosial! Mineral water bottles, paan, ice-cream, tamboola pouch, all were arranged with perfection, affixing importance to even minutiae.
Indeed, it was an evening with rumbustious revelry that will be imprinted on our minds forever. The fun was million times more than carousing in ritzy hotels with friends. Whoever said mutt parties aren’t fun? If someone has said it, well, it’s time to revisit that opinion!