Monday, 13 April 2009
On a hilltop in Jejuri, 45 kilometres from Pune city, sits the temple of Malhari or Khandoba, the presiding deity of shepherds. You buy the offering of turmeric powder and dried coconut, climb up the 200-odd steps and when you reach the temple premises one of the many priests offers his services to you. You give in. He makes you sit in front of the sanctum, asks your, your father’s and your last names and instructs you to shower the turmeric powder heavenwards while saying 'सदानंदाचा येळकोट येळकोट' (a prayer for eternal happiness). 'Don't brush the turmeric off,' he orders again and again, 'God should turn you yellow like gold'. Gold is everywhere. You shower some here and smear the rest on every deity on the way down. I didn't bother to ask while I was in Jejuri and once I returned I searched (the net) but could not find when the temple was built. 45 kilometres away, urban chaos spreads in Pune while the media touts it as the next 'happening' steel and glass Indian metro.