Bhandara – The Sadhu “Palty”

July 2008

The questions about when we would finally throw a party to celebrate our wedding with the community didn’t stop. We still could not walk two steps without a Baba coming up to us asking

“Palty? Palty? When palty???”

As my Baba belonged to the “Rishikesh Sadhu society” we had to organize something. I worried about how we would feed all the Babas. Let’s face it, we were in Rishikesh; how many Babas were around this area?

Five hundred? One thousand?

bhandaraEverybody knew us and now even more, after we had been on TV and in the newspapers. If the word spread that there would be a bhandara, probably each and every one of them would show up.

We had no idea about where and how to organize the celebration and our budget was pretty low. We talked to the Last Chance Café team, the little crew of the guesthouse we lived in, who became a family to us. They suggested celebrating the event in the guesthouse. They would also take care about organizing and cooking the food. The garden would probably be too small, but there would be enough space on the rooftop.

We decided to print flyers to invite a limited number of sadhus. Maybe this was not a nice thing to do, but we were afraid to run out of food, which would probably be even more shameful. We printed one hundred tickets. There would be puri, chana masala and rice.

What is really nice in India, is that even people you barely know will offer their help whenever needed; and even more if it is about something that involves the holy men of India, as it is said to be ¨good karma¨ to serve them selflessly.

BhandharaA number the locals appeared early in the morning to help in the kitchen and to prepare the place. We stood on the rooftop, waiting for the first guests to arrive. In the early morning many sadhus had asked us impatiently when the party would be starting. Some complained that they didn´t get any ticket and we told them not to worry and to come anyways. For a long time, nobody showed up. My Baba decided to go to the Beatles Ashram area, where some of the sadhus lived under trees or in plastic tents to tell them that food was ready to be served.

Shortly after, I saw Baba from a distance emerging from the jungle followed by a couple of dogs and a large wave of orange and white clad figures. A long line of sadhus climbed up the shaky iron stairs to the rooftop. From afar it looked like a gigantic saffron-colored caterpillar crawling up the steps. Soon the space was fully occupied and some Babas sat down in the garden to eat or waited there for their turn, as there was no more space left upside.

The kitchen, where the cooking-team was unceasingly frying puris was steaming and the local volunteers eagerly served food and water to the sadhus. The sadhus came, ate and left in turns. It was and endless coming and going, occasionally producing a jam on the narrow stairs.

Babas

Suddenly there was a scream. I rushed to the garden to find out what had happened. A young local with a ponytail dressed in modern western clothes was lying on the floor, blood pouring down his face. I knew him; he was one of the cool, Bollywood-influenced Indian Kids of the area. The poor fellow had become victim of the absence of Indian safety measures. The rooftop was not bounded by any walls. He had touched one of the power cables that were lying openly along the border of the rooftop with humid hands and got flung through the air by the electric shock, landing in the garden three meters below.

He opened his eyes and stood up, looking embarrassed at the group of people forming a circle around him. Fortunately he was fine, the wound on his head was only superficial and looked worse than it actually was. He was a bit in a state of shock, but it seemed that his ego got hurt more than anything else, as his performance had not looked Bollywood-action-hero-like at all.

In the end we counted more than 250 sadhus. We had not run out of food and everybody was happy and satisfied. Finally we had fulfilled our palty-duty and could walk peacefully through town again.

15 thoughts on “Bhandara – The Sadhu “Palty”

  1. Hi, I went through your posts and frankly, this looks like unbeleivable story. Though it might be true & i beleive it is. I have spent some years in the town and have interacted with number of foreigners, the only feeling i have is, all come here to “learn”.

    i’m real curiours to meet both of you someday.

    I have a question to ask, if you feel like answering, what made you attarcted to Hinduism?

    Thanks,
    Dharmanand

    • Namaskar Ji!
      Thanks for posting on my blog, makes me happy! Well, I don’t know what happened to me with Hinduism, it is a huge topic anyways. Things just found me. Hinduism is a spiritual path that is still so much alive and lived out in so many ways. Where are you living?

      Greetings from the snowy mountains!

      • Namaskar,

        Thanks for your reply. Yes, Hinduism is full of things to discover, within oneself and outside world.

        I am a native of hardwar and have grown in these two cities, wondering during my childhood, just to understand things on the same lines as everyone does.

        Your post was ‘super’ interesting and one rarely gets to read such posts, i must say very different indeed.

        I am in New Delhi nowadays and wish to get connected to my soul sometime, this is what i need most of times, being in Rishikesh. I am an engineer by profession and have never left my roots and path to understand and learn about great things on Hindusim and spirituality. I am here planning to be in Rishikesh by early December, are you still in Rishikesh with Baba?

        Actually i am curiuos and have many questions & wish to understand sometime from you. I can be reached at dharmanand.rishikesh@gmail.com.

        I will be previllaged to learn more about you.

        Thanks Again, Om Namah Shiyay,
        Dharmanand

      • Hari Om!

        The thing I am doing here is telling our story… now already a few years have passed since the honeymoon story 🙂 The thing was, that I didn’t know where to start my blog, so I decided to start from the beginning.
        We now live near Almora, you should come by some time to enjoy the freshness of the Himalayas and the beautiful view.

        Bholenath!!!

  2. Pingback: Honeymoon With Rumpelstilskin Part 1 | himalayacakes

  3. Almora is scenic, my ascestors came from here. there is a place called “Kaichi Dham” the place where Neem Karori Baba stayed, must visit there if one gets chance. where do you stay?

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