We were received at the station by a person who had been updated by the travel agent from Bangalore.We hired four Vikrams to carry all the people as also the luggage to the place which had been booked .We were taken to the Swami Narayan Ashram.They had rooms to let us.We just shifted our luggage into the rooms & hit the bed.We were fast asleep.
The next morning,we were surprised to see the person who had received us at the station at the ashram.He informed us that he is a priest & he will perform the rituals of veni daan.He knew Tamil & spoke it too.This made things very easy for the men in my family as regards communication.We told him that we had already fixed it up with our priest at Allahabad.This made him angry & he refused to budge.This was partly because the travel agent had misinformed him that he should assist in rituals.Another reason,I surmised was veni daan ceremony involves a lot of things being handed over to the purohita who performs it.He also reminded us that he had come to receive us at the station at such a late hour. We somehow managed to convince him that our priest only will officiate at veni daan.There was some cash which was exchanged to cool him down.He in turn,spoke to the ashram attendants to see that we vacated the ashram by that evening itself.
Our priest had called us all at the ghat for veni daan.Veni means hair & daan meaning giving away .So veni daan means giving away hair.In the said ceremony,the husband parts with a small part of the hair of his wife.We enquired from the purohita about the significance of veni daan.He said that sumangali ( a wife ) has no right to a hair cut in her life time.But as per scriptures,all our sins reside in our hair.So by Veni daan,a sumanagali also gets an oppurtunity to get rid of her hair ,in part thereby parting away with her sins.Veni daan has specual significance in Allahabad as there is sanag,m of three rivers-the Ganga,the Yamuna & the Saraswati.I am someone who likes hair cropped short & have been keeping a short hair style since I joined college.This veni daan just confirmed that I had been right though I had to face stiff opposition from many of near & dear ones !
All the things had bveen kept ready by an assistant of the purohita who hailing from Allahabad spoke in Kannada.He had learnt it so that he could communicate with people from Karnataka.I felt that we could take a lesson from him & learn other languages.After ,our hubbies had cut a few centimetres of our hair,we proceeded to take adip in the sangam.We were all taken in a boat & reached the sangam in the midst of the rivers.We could make out the Yamuna which has a darker hue & the Ganga which has a light colour.Saraswati,is invisible & is said to be just joining the two from underground.As we lowered ourselves on the stone platform to take adip,we were surprised by the strong current of the rivers.We just managed to take two or three dips in the water-drowning our heads into the water .We climbed up & the bathing was done.We managed to do all this because of being ably assisted or rather propped up by the boatmen.
In the wet clothes,we reached the purohita's place .We changed into a fresh set of clothes.We then gave away our wet clothes to the purohita's assistant as per the tradition.Then each of us (each couple ) also gave a set of clothes to the purohita & his wife.This included a dhoti & a nine yard saree.After that,we went to the Mutt for lunch.It is located opposite to the purohita's home.The food was simply superb ! Sambhar had been prepared using karela but it was so yummy that I quite forgot about the bitter taste of karela.Lunch over,we headed back in Vikrams to our rooms at the ashram.
At the ashram,another drama began.The attendents demanded that we vacate the rooms as they had been told about our stay only till that afternoon.We told that even twenty four hours had not passed since we landed at the ashram but they refused to listen.Then my bhabhi called up the travel agent at Bangalore & umpteen calls later ,we were allowed to stay till that night.The Bangalore travel agent aslo transferred money to the ashram account before we were allowed to continue our stay further.
In the evening,five of us went sight seeing.All were unable to accompany us as some were not well & others were too exhausted.We went around in a Vikram & saw Hanuman temple,a Kali mata mandir etc.We also stopped to taste lassi at a namkeen shop.My hubby got some savouries packed for his family so that they could enjoy thenm during their train journey.As some people were not well,they wanted idlis .But we ere unable to get idlis.But nearthe ashram itself,they weree able to buy idlis.
After the sight seeing,we headed to the Mutt to partake of dinner.The purohita's home had Ganpati celeberations going on & they invited us for Bhandara ( grand feast ) at his place.So we cancelled our dinner at the Mutt.There was a big crowd for the feast.Ganpati aarti got over & as we were to leave for station,we were served the feast first.There was sabzi,daal,stuffed pooris,chutni etal.Our other family members had also joined us for the bhandara.After we thanked the purohita,we left for our rooms.We packed up our things & left for the statioin in four Vikrams.
I & my hubby were to leave for Delhi in Rajdhani.Other family members were travelling to Chennai from Allahabad.My hubby had booked & cancelled our tickets to Delhi.This, I was able to learn after many attempts.So,I tried my luck in booking tickets at the statiuon.I was able to book my tickets in another train which was arriving at three at midnight.The booking clerk made a passing comment about his happiness.I gave him a hundred rupee note as he had made me happy.We bade our family good bye as we left the platform wherein they waited for their train.Their train arrived just some ten minutes before our train.
We climbed into our Rajdhani.This is the original Rajdhani -from Kolkatta to Delhi.The interiors of the train delighted me .The toilets & seats & the whole train was spic spac.We reached Delhi by ten in the morning.We hailed ataxi & reached the airport.There was a lot of time as our plane was scheduled to fly to Mumbai only in the afternoon.We ate some snacks & just lazed around in numerous shops .My hubby brought a spectacle case as he had lost his case.We did try to book an earlier flight but none was available.
We finally boarded our flight & reached home by half past seven.My kid was delighted to see me & her dad.She hugged me tightly to tell me that she had missed me.I was also equally emotional.We had dinner & went to bed.Next day,we had to be on time for my daughter's school at seven in the morning !