Sending Saintly Safe-wishes

(Forum poet and yogic valkyrie ‘Gypsy’ has been traveling throughout India the past four months. It just so happens that her latest blog entry was from Varanasi – the Holy city rocked by yesterday’s bomb blasts and rising tensions between Hindus and Muslims. Protective and paranoid vibes instinctively began to ripple in great force – but the story below seems to speak of how the Indian ‘way’ is inclined to take such things in stride. It’s as if there is an innate cultural ‘prioritizing’ – a daily need to attend to matters of ‘deeper’ significance – that fuels the engine of India’s spirit. What can we learn from this?)

FROM ABC NEWS – March 7, 2006

Armed police mounted vigil at temples and public places across India and leaders appealed for calm as Hindu groups called for a strike in a northern state to protest against bomb blasts that killed 15.

Tuesday’s blasts in Varanasi, one of the holiest pilgrimage centres for the country’s majority Hindus, also wounded dozens of people and came barely a week before Holi, the Hindu festival of colours.

It sparked fears of sectarian violence as some police officers suspected the attack to be the work of Islamist militants fighting against Indian rule in disputed Kashmir. But there were no reports of trouble, police said.

“The city is peaceful. We have taken all precautions. There have been no reports of any untoward incidents,” said K.L. Meena, Varanasi’s inspector-general of police.

“There have been no arrests so far and police parties are conducting raids at various places since last night,” he said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urged people to remain calm after the blasts, but Hindu groups allied to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party called for a general strike in the state on Wednesday to protest against the blasts. Authorities said they had shut down schools and colleges as a precaution, but a Reuters reporter said traffic on the streets of the ancient city appeared normal.

“People are moving around. Puja (worship) is going on in the temples. There is no problem now,” said 65-year-old housewife Prem Lata.

Temple-studded Varanasi, 670 km southeast of the capital New Delhi, is on the banks of the holy Ganges river. Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi, being cremated on the banks of the Ganges and the ashes immersed in the river ensures release from the cycle of rebirth. Many elderly and ill people come to the city if they believe they are close to death.

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