Under the rising sun were hundreds of people, devoting time in the thread of morning to bathe in the Rameshwaram sea.
This time I came to India with the desire to experience a dip in the holy water. I did not know what to expect. I did not belong to any religious community that summoned the faithful to it; I am just a curious traveller who has visited India twice and wonders if such a practice could stir something in me.
I awoke early, at 4 a.m., greeting the dawn with eyes crusty in sleep. After meeting with the priest who was waiting for me, I was led down to the water. I was unsure of what to expect, as it was still dark. While we walked, I began to see more and more clearly; and when the road gave way to the waterfront, I could just make out the source of light in the East. Under the rising sun were hundreds of people, devoting time in the thread of morning to bathe in the Rameshwaram sea.
As I looked around, I could see people of all ages, including a few families with children. To my right, I could see one older man performing Surya Namaskar, a ritual in which he offered water from his cupped hands to the first rays of the sun. A little fearful and a little bit in awe, I waded into the sea to take my own dip in the Bay of Bengal, paying careful attention to my sensations. The water was surprisingly lukewarm, I felt my body relax in its embrace; the rising sun spread a honey gold light on the water, the bony old priest kept chanting a litany in Sanskrit, the mother of all languages.
When the mind tried to intrude saying I was foolish, it was immediately dismissed by the heart that was full of joy, because I dared. When it was time to go back to the usual, I thanked my priest and sat there quietly thinking: "I do not know if I am purified of my sins, but somehow, I know, this bath has quenched my thirsty soul".