It’s Ram Navami today, the last day of the Chaitra Navratra. It’s nine years I have not been in Kasi on this day. It was the Chaitra Navratra in which I had left Kasi nine years ago, sans any ides of how I was going to miss it, and how much. But this post is not about me. It’s about my Kasi and what I know of Ram Navami there.
My first encounter with Ram Navami was definitely when I was a child of about seven. I can say that because I clearly remember the inside square of the famous Ram Bank and I also remember equally clearly being there with my grandmother who passed away when I was about nine. There was a huge gathering and some katha or kirtan was going on. We were somewhere by one of the sides of the large rectangular area in front of the garbh grih. I also remember the pradakshina of the garbh grih through passages that gave a claustrophobic touch in some sections. There’s a special reason for which the name Ram Bank is used for this temple, or a section of it: people write the name of Lord Ram with a solution of vermilion on paper or on the leaves of Bael tree and deposit their writing here as the deposit gives them the right to withdraw from their account of punya to counteract all the paap that they do in this world. It’s also because they believe that the deposit also makes life easier for them by removing obstacles. For the believers, the very idea is very reassuring. How does one reach the temple?
It’s easy. One has to enter Vishwanath Gali from Dashashwamedh Road side. After passing a couple of shops there’s a gali to the right that leads straight to the temple. It’s the very first gali to the right and right in front of the beginning there’s a very old and famous shop that sells sweets for offerings. I can’t say whether the shop is as famous as the one inside Sankatmochan campus or not, but it’s very well known. I remember the taste of the home made butter that we used to get there.