On 7 February we ventured a pilgrimage to Lord Ganesh who resides just outside the temple house – read about the experiences of one of the pilgrims and take a look at the images taken on this full day.
Travelling to the temple
The snow-capped peaks merged with the white and grey marbled sky this morning as I drove in the direction of Fideris. The wintry sun was rising slowly casting its weak rays here and there but offering little warmth. A powerful wind was stirring forcing me to drive more carefully. I wondered what the elements had in store for us up in the temple on this Pooja day.
The monthly winter Poojas are always an unknown quantity. How will the weather be? Will there be so much snow that it’s hard to even find the front door? Who and how many of us will be there? Will the presence of the Divine be with us and guide us..?
I arrived at Fideris village where the buses collect the passengers and drive up to the top of the mountain. Here the real adventure always begins. The bus filled with bustling and excitement as most of the other people were on their way up the mountain to enjoy the ski resort and snow. Skis, sledges, rucksacks, snow boards and bags filled the back of the 4 wheel drive red Fideris Heuberge bus and off we went. This wasn’t a journey for the faint hearted. We sped up the snow and ice covered windy road with incredible agility and ease while the first keen sledge riders of the day whizzed past in the opposite direction. Some distance before the top, where the temple track joins the main road, the bus stopped to let us ‘pilgrims’ out. Now it was time for us to put on our curious looking snow shoes to stop us sinking knee deep into the new snow. We shuffled, in single file, all with rucksacks on our backs, through the beautiful white snow, methodically ascending towards the temple. We admired the play of light on the incredible panoramic winter scenery and marveled at the foot prints in the snow fields that told stories of wild animals totally at home in this inhospitable environment.
Arriving at the temple we first payed our respects to Lord Ganesh who proudly and patiently stands, waits, guards and welcomes all those approaching the temple. Moving into the dining room, rucksacks were excitedly unpacked and offering trays were filled with goodies. The faithful bell-ring marked the start of the Pooja which commenced with devotion to Lord Ganesh outside. Incense was offered and bhajans were sung. Throwing-petals were lovingly offered which then lay in vibrant colours strewn across the snow clad ground underneath His feet.
It must be such a strange sight for any passer-by to see a curious group of people high in the mountains, standing in the snow with woolen socks and slippers, armed with throwing petals and tambourines, singing strange songs. What the passer-by will fail to see is that which has really brought this group together on this wintry Sunday afternoon. The indescribable joy and excitement of not only worshiping together, but the shared opportunity of establishing an incredible temple and place of pilgrimage.
We then moved up into the attic room which will be the future main temple. A small Nataraj and candle humbly stand in the place where one day a mighty Goporum will be, encasing a lingam and three-headed-Nag. As the door closed our eyes became accustomed to the relative dark and we sung at the top of our voices in devotion to Lord Shiva. As always, this was my favourite part of the Pooja. When I close my eyes up there, time seems to stand still. Past, present and future seem to merge into one. It feels as if the surrounding mountain peaks and all the 5 elements come to manifest for us to worship them.
The temple door was then reopened and streams of light, magnified by the brilliant white snow, suddenly brought us back to earth. Distant shrieks of delight were heard as skiers and sledge riders slid around on the slopes, often collapsing in bursts of laughter. The last part of the Pooja was then conducted in the teaching room where the shrine is. We chanted and sung together and an amazing sense of intensity and harmony filled the room. It felt good to worship the beautiful Murthies that stand on the shrine and to see the glowing image of our beloved Guru Subramanium smile at us.
Get-together and going home
After Pooja, everyone happily descended into the dining room to dig into the amazing feast of raclette cheese and other delicious goodies that materialised from nowhere. We all huddled together cheerfully around the table, enjoying the warmth and nourishment. Melted snow was heated for hot tea and just as quickly as everything had appeared, everything was tidied away and rucksacks were packed. Then it was snow shoes on again, back down the mountain and it was already time to go home.