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MCG - SCG Yatra, Day 48

Willowdale - Liverpool - (Raby)

Before I share the details of the day with you, I would like to clarify a couple of things to avoid any misconceptions. A few days ago, I shared my views about the commercialisation of the Christmas festival. Over the last few decades, how the innocent followers of Christianity have been increasingly exploited by corporate interests as well as various churches. It was not my intention to criticise Christianity as a faith but I wanted to highlight the commercialisation and exploitation of the innocent. An author once wrote, “I believe in Christianity but not in churchianity.” Unfortunately, the commercialisation and exploitation of its subjects is not confined to one religion. At the time of Diwali, the Festival of Lights also got commercialised over a period of time and the Indians are equally exploited. The true spirit of Diwali has been replaced by wholesale imports of Diwali merchandise and its success is measured by the amount of nationwide sales. In simple terms, the corporate sector views you as a producer or a consumer to assess the market size and calculate business potential.

Now let me take you back to Yatra. Today was Friday and Suresh Bhai had already asked me if Shekhar and I would like to go to the temple where a small group of Fiji-Indian families gather to chant the Holy Scripture of Ramayan followed by prasadam, nagona and kirtan. Both of us had agreed. Suresh bhai still had issues with his toenail digging into the skin. So, he wanted to go for a short walk locally. Shekhar and I got ready and after having a quick cupper and a toast, we drove to Willowdale.

The weather forecast was rain and occasional showers. It was already drizzling when I started the walk. I wasn’t wearing any water-proofs except the shoes. The high-vis T-shirt was suitable for the day’s temperature but wasn’t going stop the rain from getting my under-garments wet. One good thing was that there was a concrete footpath on the left side of the Camden Valley Highway and that made it easier for me to walk. Despite the rain changing its intensity every so often, I pushed on.

When we reached Liverpool, we called it a day and Shekhar and I drove back to Raby. The primary reason to stop the walk at Liverpool was to come back to Suresh Bhai’s house to take some photos with his family especially his wife who would be at work when we usually returned. When she came back from work, it was too dark to take photos with the van. We felt it was important to record these memories with the decorated van. As soon as we came back, Koki was making pooris (a type of bread that is deep fried in oil or ghee). Shekhar and I had our brunch (breakfast and lunch together) and it was so yummy. Thank you so much for your generous hospitality, Suresh bhai and koki bhabi. You guys are unbelievable. A big thank you! Koki had to get ready to go to work virtually straightaway. We took photos with Suresh bhai and Koki before she left.

In the afternoon, Vipul Poddar, (Poddar bhai's son) came over to Suresh bhai's place to meet us. It was very nice of him to make time to come over. On behalf of his company, Vipul had also made a generous donation to the McGrath Foundation. We had a good chat. Suresh bhai called up Poddar Ji in Delhi. It was a video call and I was so pleased to see Poddar bhayia happy and lively and talk to him live in presence of his son. Poddar bhai reminded me of the 5-6 days we had spent together at the Ganga Darshan Ashram in Munger, Bihar a few years ago.

Suresh bhai, Shekhar and I drove the van to the temple as suggested by Suresh bhai. We got there before the evening program had started. Suresh bhai introduced me and Shekhar to the President and other members of the temple. Tonight, it was the ladies turn to chant Ramayan and read out its translation in Hindi. These women dressed up in red saaris were seated on the podium. The environment in the temple was very impressive when they sang and played the harmonium just like their male counterparts. It created positive vibes that penetrated the mind, body and the soul.

At the end of the Ramayan session, I was formally introduced to the audience and asked to share the experience of my walk from the MCG. I narrated the reasons behind the walk, and explained how the McGrath Foundation had been instrumental in helping over 110,000 Australian families who were impacted by breast cancer. I requested the audience to come forward and donate generously. They all queued up and despite being a relatively small group, they collectively donated $850. Hats off to these closely-knit families. Thank you so much for your generous contributions for a noble cause. A big thank you!

We participated in the kirtan, we had prasadam and we drove back home. Koki had already come home and she had been waiting for us to come home. We all had a chat over a cuppa. This was going to be our last night at Suresh bhai’s house, so it wasn’t surprising that our chatting continued well past midnight.

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1 Comment

Praveena Mishra
Praveena Mishra
Jan 01, 2023

Lovely ! made it to Sydney / nearly. Great.

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