I’ve just released a Box Set of The Secret of the Tirthas, my adventure mystery series for ages 11+. Over the next week or two I’m planning a few posts about the people and places that inspired me to write it. Today, I want to focus on Kashi, or Varanasi, the first portal that Lizzie discovers in her garden.
Of all the things that impressed me most about Kashi, it was the ordinary people going down to the river each day and dropping off the final step, or ghat, into the broad, flowing river Ganges. There was a practical reason for it – they would wash and some would even brush their teeth in the water. But then many would finish by cupping their hands in the river and lifting the water up above their shoulders, facing towards the rising sun.
I found out that this was their morning puja, or worship, and the aim was to catch a glimpse of blue and shining Shiva, whose city Kashi is. I found this astonishing, inspiring, the way the religious, the sacred, was woven into day-to-day life.
And what an idea. Poetry to me is an attempt to catch a glimpse of deeper meanings, attune to a resonance that is in us but seldom heard, rarely understood. It’s a way of surprising ourselves, of using words to sneak a peek at something that is both nebulous and more solid and important than anything else we think about in the midst of our normal, everyday lives. And here were these people, making that transcendent shiver a part of their daily routine. This was an integral part of the City of Light, and I was awed.
You can get a copy of The Secret of the Tirthas Box Set here: