After an early shower this morning,
I sped out to the streets of Banaras:
it was past six-thirty in late February,
and I’d miss the most charming part.
It was a hurried walk from my hotel
to the famed Dashashwamedh Ghat;
past the Vishwanath temple’s campus –
already at the task of setting up stalls.
Florists had barely set up the displays –
and tea stalls their kettles just warmed:
A chain of beggars had already flanked
this stretch – both hands outstretched.
The ghat by now was set up for act one,
a glow of dawn raising its azure curtain:
Naga sadhus on stage ready to perform
for Ganges past the line of saffron flags.
Throngs of people waded into the river,
bathing in obeisance to rising Sun God:
Sandal anointed pundits, after holy dips –
waited under canopies to initiate rituals.
Barbers performing on stage this long,
first to start the nimble-fingered dance –
of eyes, hand movements as in Kathak:
the patrons rivetted to facial expression.
Soul aloof – I stand in the amphitheatre
viewing the dance-drama in curious awe:
as swathed in vilambit(slow) laya and taal –
I’m led inward to my core – a dancefloor.