Chennai Journal
Sunday, September 10, 2006
To the Punjab and Back

This week I went to Chandigarh and Ludiana, in the state of Punjab, to visit two of our dealers. Punjab is a state heavily populated by Sikhs, who broke away from Hinduism in the 16th century. All male Sikhs are named Singh either as a last or middle name (although not all Singhs are Sikhs) and females are given the name Kaur. One of the dealers, who is orthodox, explained their prayer ritual and gave me a mala---a kind of cotton rosary (this is the closest analogy I can think of) that is an aid to meditations and has 108 woven beads as a short hand for the 10,800 breaths that one is supposed to take in a day. (It is believed that prayer magnifies by 100, therefore the 108 becomes 10,800). The Sikhs believe in one God. As in Judaism, anyone can say or lead prayers---it does not require a priest---and prayers are offered for any and all events---opening of a shop, starting out on a journey, or occupying a new dwelling.

Chandigarh is only about 3 hours drive from Shimla, an old British hill station which usually has fantastic views of the Himalayas---unless socked in by rain and fog, as it was both days I was there (see above). The maddening thing was that the weather on Thursday and Friday was evidently very nice. I do seem to have bad luck when it comes to hill station weather---Marty and I had a similar experience when we went to Ooty. I am told that after October the weather should be more predictable. Shimla was a lovely place even in the fog, and it would be worth going back.

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