Sikharji Memory

Mount Sikharji, a sanctuary of peace on earth for Jain Yatri
The temples built in years gone by, still age and gravity defy
Silhouettes on her skyline display a purity of line
And so we joyful pilgrims went on our incredible ascent
The mahatirth of Sikharji, the height of bliss for Jain Yatri
At 4am our spirits high, we gazed up at a starlit sky
With tapping canes and by torchlight, in expectation and delight
To start our Pahad Yatra, a dawn ascent for joy thereafter
But first we went to ask for aid from Bhomayaji the guardian guide
A  legendary figure he, protects pilgrims of Sikharji
So on we went, the path we climbed, the dholi boys were close behind
Sita Ram and three strong crew call to me “we’ll carry you”
Pilgrims carried shoulder high by dholi boys, but no not I
Joined those who braved the rugged climb, briskly strode at double time
Beggars by the path each side, hands outstretched and hungry eyed
Persistent vendors seeking buyers, warming hands at glowing fires
The sun awakened sapphire sky illuminated Sikharji
And when we reach a temple there, the Namaskara Mantra share
Down below the valley lay, but we moved on, no time to stay
Again we climbed in midday sun, our pilgrimage was well begun
We reached the top, we bold yatri, we’d now ascended Sikharji
The shrines and tempes built so high, as if to reach and touch the sky
Ford Makers lived in golden days, here still the pilgrims sing their praise
We pilgrims who aspire to see the beauty of Mount Sikharji
At shrines we stood, so still, in awe, Tirthankar images before
We met so many pilgrims there, who at my English accent stare
“Are you from England?”  “Gee tha’s cool… my cousin lives near Solihull
Do you know her?” I say “I may” and so I pleasantly demur
We’ve walked for miles. climbed to the peak, exhausted so we cannot speak
We’ve stopped to eat, admired the view, the trees so green, the sky so blue
We’ve stood in awe and now its time to turn and start the downward climb
Each fellow pilgrim now a friend, but all too soon we’d reached the end


I have listed the meanings of the following words, to make the poem easier to understand.

Mount Sikharji is a Jain pilgrimage site in India, yatri are Jain pilgrims, and  Mahatirth, a great pilgrimage site.  Pahad yatra is a type of walking pilgrimage.  Bhomayaji is a mythologised histoprical figure. Dholi boys helped the pilgrims by carrying them in chairs above their heads during the journey.  Namaskara Mantra is a holy mantra/prayer. Ford makers and Tirthankars are synonyms for people who cross the ford of life and as such have an iconic status.

I went on a pilgrimage to India in 2003 with the North American Jains as part of my research for De Montfort University.  This involved travelling across India by train, bus, tractor, and on foot.  We climbed Mount Sikharji starting off at 4am and returning to base by 4pm, an amazing experience.


About researcherann

Retired was a research student part time and medical secretary. Now learning Spanish and British Sign Language, enjoy running, swimming, aerobics, aquafit, reading and writing, though not all at the same time!
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