- Sonya sonya
- FANCY TRYING OUT 84 STEPS TO MOKSHA AT GOINDWAL GURDWARA SANS FEAR OF SUCCUMBING TO HYPOTHERMIA?
Note: News of a foreign tourist’s intention to visit Goindwal Baoli this winter and dip repeatedly in the icy-cold river Beas at the foot of its 84th step is what prompted me to draw up the following list. What proved to be even more awe-inspiring and touching were first-person accounts I came across. These were tales of courage, faith, determination, humility, suffering and even miraculous cures at Goindwal Baoli, experienced by pilgrims who had accomplished the 84 step ritual in one go (a feat that takes up 10 to 20 hours in stiffening cold), and by others who had abandoned the quest midway. I sincerely hope my piece will contribute in some small measure to making such pilgrimages physically more bearable for participants without, however, denying them those divinely powerful, powerfully divine ‘aha’ moments that the victorious at Goindwal have so eloquently written of. I also trust that visitors to Goindwal who follow these warmth retention tips will enjoy equal opportunity for attainment of Moksha/Liberation from the 84,00,000 cycles of life for ultimate unity with The Divine, as goes the legend associated with the ‘stepwell’ at Goindwal Gurdwara.
1. Ensure you’re in top form: Prepare for the challenge by exercising weeks in advance (regular walks, deep breathing, yoga/Pranayama etc.), getting adequate rest and sleep, eating wholesome/nutritious meals and drinking plenty of water. Avoid alcohol, tobacco/nicotine and caffeine.
2. Consult your doctor: Some medications like sedatives, tranquillizers, anti-depressants and cardiovascular drugs lower the body's ability to respond to cold.
3. Set off on the pilgrimage with a calm, spiritual and devotional frame of mind.
4. Carry along the following items of clothing/bathing in a waterproof bag: a woolen cap, two light-weight towels in quick-drying material and a fluff blanket, at least two to three sets of fairly loose, lightweight, inner and outer wear in warm yet water-resistant, wind-proof, breatheable, quick-drying materials. Cotton would be a definite no-no. Down, once it gets wet, serves no insulation purpose.
5. Have at hand a flask containing a warm, sweet beverage for frequent consumption, as well as high-energy foods containing carbohydrates, proteins, fats: Energy bars, chocolates, nuts and raisins, jaggery (gur), roasted grams (channa), toffees, peanut butter are all good options.
6. Keep as much of your body out of the icy-cold water as possible and well-covered, while bearing in mind that areas of the body most susceptible to critical heat loss are head and neck, armpits, sides of the chest, and groin. Dry yourself and change into dry clothes whenever convenient. Avoid any form of unnecessary exercise between dips/immersions.
7. Use H.E.L.P. (Heat Escape Lessening Position) whenever the going gets really tough: Hold your arms tightly against your sides and across your chest, pull your legs together and up towards your chest. For performing HELP on the cold, wet steps at Goindwal Baoli, carry along a 2 x 2 foot cushion/pad made of closed-cell foam, to sit on.
8. Apply Vaseline to your body prior to immersion, and massage it with mustard oil once you’re done with all immersions. Cover yourself with the fluff blanket whenever the cold feels unbearable.
9. Use the ‘Buddy System’ with fellow-visitors/pilgrims to keep an eye on each other for warning signs of hypothermia.
10. Last but not the least, use visualization techniques to make believe you’re happy and warm: see yourself sunbathing on a Goan beach, riding across Jaisalmer sand-dunes on camel back, sitting before a roaring log fire in Manali or glowing under a celestial light … one of these imageries is bound to work!
Contributed by Sonya
(Delhi-based independent Tourist Advisor cum Guide, as well as travel writer-photographer-researcher, who recently upgraded her skills by qualifying in First Aid and Basic Life-saving).
1 November 2016