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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Devotion Gone Overboard

In this pilgrim city
there is a unique celebrity,
an ancient peepul tree
chosen for worship
by many a devotee.

In a deed of devotion,
a sweeping show of piety,
and possibly in memory
of spouses and sons,
the zealous ones
flagged the earth around the tree
with grey and white marble stones.

Easy in their tread
they circumambulate the tree
on this shining marble stone,
which, unknown to them,
slowly strangulates,
snuffs the air out of its roots,
saps it dry
and starves it of sustenance.

Curious pilgrims throng
in ever-increasing numbers
and marvel how long
budless, leafless and sterile
the tree stands
as the bark peels off,
the brittle twigs break
and fungus and moss overtake.
But that does not slacken
their adoration nor fervour
as they adorn the tree
with iron bells and light bulbs
that hang from its enfeebled limbs,
and make use of the hollows
for their banners and flags,
and on the sagging shoulders
mount a loudspeaker
to beckon the faithful
and the believer.

Their devotion unflagging
they anoint the trunk daily
with sindhoor, saffron and sandalwood,
burn incense and sticks of resin,
and chanting with passion
move earthen lamps in a sinuous motion
and wash and mop with ardour
this marble stone around the tree.

This revered peepul has to hold on
and stand as long as it can
as they embellish it
with wish-knots
of many-hued threads.
It dare not let them down
and their faith disown.

Jammu - 20 February 1995



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