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Parikrama
Reflections PDF Print E-mail

Is the parikrama becoming a blind faith? Is the difficulty in the parikrama the reason for it being so exclusive, so life changing? The parikrama now can be completed in various segments. It is not necessary to do it in a stretch. There must be a strong drive amongst the people to complete this once started.

From our observations, we have noticed that the philosophy and the behaviour of the people here are inter-linked. The river’s culture as noticed today is a result of the beliefs that have been around for generations, but again, culture is not a total reality and is in constant evolution. Culture is always subject to change, be it near the river Narmada or someplace else.

The feeling that is prevalent around the river gives rise to an air of self-satisfaction for the people who reside there as well as for visitors. It was interesting to observe and note that these people show behaviour that is is self-rewarding and self-sustainable. Most human behaviour is said to revolve around the following three aspects:

 
About the Parikrama PDF Print E-mail

Narmada is the only river in the world which is circumambulated in her entire length of 1312 Km. This circumambulation, is called Narmada Parikrama. It is a special kind of river pilgrimage popular in Central India. The age-old tradition of Narmada Parikrama involves walking alongside the river Narmada from her origin at Amarkantak to the sea, crossing over to the other side, and then walking back to its origin. The total journey in a properly done Parikrama involves a riverside walking of at least 2624 Km in a period of 3 years, 3 months and 13 days.

Narmada is the perpetual flow of religious traditions and spiritual consciousness in the heart of India. This great river, historically much older than even the great Ganges, is a hub of Indian culture and rituals. A devotee who undertakes a Parikrama is called a ‘Parikramawasi’ or ‘Parkammawasi’ in local dialects. More often than not, small groups of Parkammawasis can be seen carrying their belongings with them while travelling along Narmada. Narmada Parikrama is also a cultural and traditional manifestation of devotion to Narmada. Parikrama is a not a picnic or recreation, it is an adventurous spiritual journey around the sacred river through hills, dense forests, gorges, ravines, rocky patches, caves, plateaus and plains.Parkammawasi near Bandrabhan, Hoshangabad

It is a religious and adventurous trek involving visits to temples, ghats, shrines and villages. It is a form of tapasya (penance) to please the ‘mother’ Narmada who takes care and looks after the hardships and needs of all those who undertake the Parikrama. Narmada is not just a river to Parkammawasis. She is a living deity to them with whom they interact and communicate spiritually.

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It is not difficult to understand why thousands of people undertake this painstaking journey around Narmada every year. It was believed in ancient Hindu traditions that walking around sources of positive energy would charge one with the same positive energy. Therefore the ritual of doing a Parikrama or Pradakshina – walking around in a clockwise circle around temples, deities, holy mountains, holy lakes, sacred groves, saints and gurus etc. was devised and made an integral part of their culture. Many rivers are worshiped in India as deities but tradition of a Parikrama or complete circumambulation around a river is prescribed only for the Narmada. Narmada Parikrama is believed to grant boons to grihastahs(residents), siddhis to sanyasis, peace to troubled souls, worldly possessions to common people and happiness to all. ‘Narm-da' literally means one that provides happiness and joy.

Another beautifully choreographed dance this time about the Parikrama:
 
Types of Parikrama PDF Print E-mail

Several variants of Narmada Parikrama have developed over the years.

  • Mundmal Parikrama
  • Jalahari Parikrama
  • Hanumat Parikrama
  • Dandwat Parikrama
  • Markandeya Parikrama
  • Vayu Parikrama
  • Narmada Jal Yatra (Narmada Voyage)
  • Panchkoshi Parikrama
 



“You can learn a lot from a river; persistence and patience. In the beginning you go around an obstacle and over time you slowly break it down.”