Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ritha Sahib Gurudwara (Unknown Kumoun 9)

Unknown Kumon

Nanakmatta Sahib (Unknown Kumoun: 1)
Tanakpur (Unknown Kumoun: 2)
Chalthi and Champawat (Unknown Kumoun 3)
Lohaghat and Advaita Ashram (Unknown Kumoun 4)
Pithoragarh (Unknown Kumoun 5)
Jhulaghat on the India-Nepal border (Unknown Kumoun 6)
Baitadi Nepal (Unknown Kumoun 7)
Dharchula (Unknown Kumoun 8)
Ritha Sahib Gurudwara (Unknown Kumoun 9)
Basantpur village (Unknown Kumoun 10)
Last village on the mountains (Unknown Kumoun 11)
Most dangerous Nandour valley (Unknown Kumoun 12)
End of trail at Chorgalia (Unknown Kumoun 13)
It is the time to say goodbye to beautiful Dharchula. After a breakfast of parothas, I catch a returning newspaper jeep and arrive back in Lohaghat. Jeep stops at Pithoragarh for tea and I have great temptation to get down and spend another day here. In Lohaghat I feel at home but in Pithoragarh I feel like I am in a different country and I have spent many years in different countries so I love being at home although Pithoragarh is equally beautiful and joyful.

Back to Lohaghat

Jeep driver drives it like a storm and we arrive in Lohaghat at 1 PM. My head is spinning. I collapse at a tea shop and drink a plain soda with lemons to bring my senses back. I walk to my usual hotel and take the room facing Lohawati brook in the deodar woods. I feel normal after 2 hours. I inquire hotel owner about going to Ritha Sahib and he says that one of his trader friend Lala Pawan will be going to his village near Ritha Sahib tomorrow and I can make a program with him. OK with me. But he whispers me to beware of Lala Pawan because he is a very mean man. It is still OK with me. He may be mean but cannot cause any harm to me anyway.
It is about evening and lunch time is over so I walk to the Khan Bazaar on the stairs that goes to all the way up to the next road. Samosas are being made so I make my fill with tea and Samosas. I locate Lala Pawan at his general store. He is a fat and diabetic man. He shakes hands with me and offers me to share the price of the jeep to the Ritha and I agree. He is going to his village that is 4 hours walk from Ritha Sahib.

Back to Lohaghat
I go for my usual walk on the Panchashwar road till I see snowy peaks. Have a cup of tea in the village while watching the peaks and sun setting behind the mountains and return to Lohaghat.
As dark descends views of the illuminated villages are stunning.
Next day I and Lala Pawan take a pre arranged jeep. I am surprised to know the amount of my share because it seems way high whereas I asked others they told me that was suppose to be the full price. Jeep driver reuses to tell me the price he is charging us because he knows Lala and wants to keep his relation with him but I am a total stranger. At the stops Lala asks the driver to take passengers and he collects money from each of them. A stage comes when jeep is deadly full and even driver refuses to accept more passengers. I am squeezed on the seat and I feel my bones may break so I come out of the jeep at a tea stop and sit on its roof and that makes the ride very dangerous but very rewarding. Last night it snowed so way is slippery and jeep skids at some places but luckily driver keeps the control. Lala Pawan has turned his trip to his village into a hefty profit already. I am regretting that I could have fetched any other vehicle for a fraction of the money that it has already cost me.

Way to Ritha Sahib
Jeep travels on the level and scenic road till Dhunaghat from there it makes a spectacular descent to all the way bottom. Although bottom is not visible for half the distance from Dhunaghat but terrain is pine rich and shady. I see many sleepy villages and it all looks a different strange country.
Giani Zail Singh, former president of India was instrumental in getting this road built to the Gurudwara. Road descends and descends to the village Deyuri that is the village below where the Gurudwara is situated at the confluence of the Lodhiya and Ratiya rivers.
Gurudwara itself was constructed in the year 1960. Money to construct Gurudwara was arranged some years before but one famous politician’s two sons Mr. Lovely and Mr. Sweety undertook this project but they invested money in their some other venture to double it for Gurudwara and lost it all. Finally more money was collected and Gurudwara was made.

Way to Ritha Sahib
It is said that Guru Nanak Dev Ji took rest under Reetha (Soapnut) tree. He held much spiritual discussion with the Gorakhpanthi Jogis, who lived here. When Bhai Mardana asked Nanak for food, Nanak asked Bhai Sahib to ask the yogis. Yogis told Mardana to ask your guru if he is such a Spritual Man, he will produce food. Then Nanak asked Bhai Mardana to eat Reetha, a fruit on the tree which are normally bitter in taste but when Bhai Mardana ate Reetha Fruit and he found it was Sweet. The reetha’s were sweet on the side which Nanak was sitting, and bitter on the side on which Yogis were sitting. The yogis got angry and set a snake on tree with the powers. When Nanak looked on the Snake it got frozen.
This seems like a least visited and traveled area and Gurudwara itself is not much visited. Mainstream Sikhs dispute the story about this Gurudwara because story associate with it is not mentioned in the scriptures. Gurudwara location was found by a Sikh trader in 1955 who heard about it from some Gorakpanthi Yogi and walked to this locatin.
Due to its religious background this place is considered as a holy place for Sikhs. The temple of Devnath is also located beside the Gurudwara. These Rithas are sold in the village as Prasad. I taste these rithas but find no difference in this or other rithas. Nobody eats rithas anyway.

Ritha Sahib Gurudwara
I along with Lala Pawan, we get down from the jeep from where the path goes to the Gurudwara. I ask Lala Pawan that he is robbing me by making me pay for the whole price of the jeep and he himself made double the money. Lala Pawan gives me 50 rupee back; I refuse and tell him to gift it to the Gurudwara instead. He laughs and puts the money back in his pocket.
He says, “A deal is a deal, that’s what I told you at the beginning.”
Lala Pawan and I descend to the Gurudwara, it is 1PM. I pay respects at prayer hall. Lala Pawan tells me that he also will be staying at the Gurudwara whereas he told me that he will be taking a horse to his village this same evening because he cannot walk much. Now he wants to stay with me saying that it is too late. Or may be he wants me to pay for his horse ride too because I will be trekking in the same direction tomorrow. Actually he is excited that the room and food is free here in Gurudwara.

Ritha Sahib Gurudwara
I find the manager who is called Babaji by all sewaks. I see only 3 people running the Gurudwara. Babaji is gone to the village and I am assured by the sewaks that we will definitely given a room. They prepare food for us because they already ate their food. Babaji returns and I find him a gentleman of exceptional qualities. He is a very humble and ascetic type person and he is like a founder of this Gurudwara. This Gurudwara is not affiliated with SGPC but run independently by Babaji. These three sewaks I see are all destitute and given shelter by Babaji and they made this Gurudwara their home.
I wanted a room alone but Babaji anticipates that we (I and Lala Ji) are together, he gives us the same room and I don’t argue; may be it’d be a fun to spend some time with this fat and mean Lala Ji.
We unload out belongings and relax; a boy sewadar calls us for food. This boy is a runaway, he says his mother died and his father remarried and his step mother was very cruel to him so he ran away. He hung around Golden Temple for some days then he was told to leave. Somehow he ended up at Nanakmatta Gurudwara. There he met Babaji and he adopted him as his son. Lala Ji orders me to bring his food in the room and I abide.
I eat food in the kitchen by the hearth because it is cold outside, and then take a thali for Lala Ji to our room. Lala Ji eats his food and then tea arrives. After half hour food and tea elevates his blood sugar and he asks me to give him an injection. I say OK. After giving him a dose of insulin I walk to the village. I chat with people. I come to know that they offered a serious opposition when this Gurudwara was being built and tried to sabotage this whole project. It used to be an akada belonging to Guru Goraknath Sect and whole village respected those ascetics. Patrons who built this Gurudwara did everything for this village, they offer their beddings and cooking pots for local weddings for free. Because of the Gurudwara road arrived here and it took some time for the ice to break. This Gurdwara contributes to the local economy because visitors come to this area because of this Gurudwara. Now everybody respects this Gurudwara and the patrons who run it.
This Gurudwara in not ancient, round 1955, some Sikh gentleman who was also a devotee of Gorakhnath came to know about this place from the ascetics living near Nanakmatta who used to walk to the akada here. He visited here and Jogies told him that these Rithas here are sweet because some Nanak Baba made them sweet. This story matched other stories about Nanak. Then this Gurudwara was established in 1960.

Ritha Sahib valley
I walked to the confluence of rivers and tried to cross the small one. Due to the recent snow fall water was stinging cold and somehow I made it across but only worried about how I will return. I kept walking for one kilometer where I found a place where I could cross the river by jumping over the rocks.
When I returned to my room Lala Pawan was crying. I asked why? He told me that his son is getting married to a girl whom he does not like. This girl has no status and belongs to a poor family. Now his son is sitting in the village and is not contributing to run their two big shops in Lohaghat. He is going there to reason it out with him because no phone works in the village. His wife’s niece is getting married in a village near and Lala suspects that his son will also getting married there at the same time.
In the evening a sewak asks me if I can read Punjabi and if I am interested to read Guru Granth Sahib for an hour or so, I happily walk to the prayer hall and read for two hours. As I came out I was told that dinner is ready and they asked us to eat in the kitchen by the fire because it is freezing cold outside.

Leaving Lohaghat
After food, Lala returns to the room and I take a walk in the village.
Before falling to sleep, I hear the miserable stories of Lala Pawan who was always a victim. His father didn’t give him enough money, his mother didn’t give him enough love, and his sisters favor his other gutless brothers who stayed poor. His brothers hate him. Whole Lohaghat is envois of him because he worked hard to build his empire. Government hates him, income tax department hates him. Even the jeep driver who brought us here hates him. Now his son, his own son hates him. His wife is also betraying him by taking side with his son who is marring to a girl who is not bringing any money. Moreover that girl’s father is dead and she is the only girl of his mother. Eventually mother will also come to live with the girl and eat for free.

Leaving Lohaghat
Then he starts telling me about his younger son who is neither interested in studying nor is interested in running the business. He also joined his brother in the village and both are now ganged up. Noukers (servants) are stealing from the both shops like crazy because only Lala is alone to supervise them.
“We are getting emptied and they are getting filled (Noukers),” he says.
He asks me to bring him water so he can take his blood pressure medicine. I bring him water.
He falls into weeping and I fall into sleeping.

Way to Ritha Sahib
I wake up in the middle of night; it is a sound as someone is rubbing two glass bottles, the rattling kind of noise. I wonder what can be it and I stay awake waiting for it to happen again. Then I discover Lala Pawan is grinding his teeth. I doubt if I will be able to sleep here in this room, I love my sleep. I go out and find all rooms unlocked but none has any quilt. It is raining outside. I take my quilt and park myself in other room on the floor mat and fall to sleep.

Helix Hedera / English Ivy / Duckfoot
Helix Hedera (also called English Ivy and duckfoot) is found all over Himalayas
Hedera Helix.
Common Ivy. N. O. Araliaceæ. Tincture of young shoots.
Clinical.─Cataract. Hydrocephalus, chronic. Rhinorrhœa cerebro-spinalis. Rickets.
Characteristics.─Our knowledge of the therapeutic properties of Ivy we owe to Dr. Cooper, whose experience has shown it to have a relation to ricket and rickety conditions. The only published case (H. W., xxxiv. 489) is, that of a girl of twenty, whom he cured of chronic hydrocephalus with a single dose, once repeated after eighteen months on a threatened return of the symptoms. The circumference of the patient’s head, when she was brought to Cooper, was 27 1/2 inches, rendering her an object of wonder and ridicule to street arabs, and reacting on her disposition and nervous state. The condition had existed from childhood and was apparently growing much worse. There were two large œdematous swellings on the nape of the neck, one on either side and immediately below the occiput, evidently the result of intra-hydrocephalic pressure. One drop of Hed. h. Ø was placed on her tongue. Next morning clear fluid began dripping from the nostrils, a “cerebro-spinal rhinorrhœa” in fact. This continued three weeks, between twenty and thirty pocket-handkerchiefs being used in a day. Simultaneously the swellings began to diminish and had completely disappeared when the discharge ceased. Thirteen months later, when being measured for a hat, it was found that the size of the head was reduced to 25 inches, and no longer occasioned remark. When, later on, some symptoms of brain-pressure seemed to threaten a second dose of Hed. h. completely dispelled them. The disposition of the patient was completely changed; from being nervous, unhappy, and diffident, she became lively, cheerful, and active. In cases of rhinorrhœa cerebro-spinalis Hed. h. must be thought of. Hed. h. has been used as a sternutatory for “clearing the sight” from time out of mind, and Cooper tells me it has cured cases of cataract.
This is a number one medicine for Hydrocephalus. I have myself treated a case of a poor little boy whom parents could not afford to take him to hospital.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent description. You cannot leave without reading the complete episodes.
    Minor grammatical mistakes, which should be taken care of in the future episodes.


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