| The pilgrims on their bikes at Jalebia Mor in Bhagalpur. Telegraph picture |
A group of devotees from Begusarai combined the desire for pilgrimage with an adventurous spirit as it kick-started a three-day trip to Deoghar in Jharkhand to take part in the Shravan ritual.
Pilgrims —known as kanwariyas — usually cover the 100-km distance between Sultanganj in Bhagalpur and Deoghar on foot. They collect water from the Ganga at the ghats of Ajgaivinath temple in Sultanganj and run or walk the distance to Baidyanath Temple in Deoghar. After reaching their destination, they pour the holy water on the Shiva lingam at the Baidyanath Temple.
A group of 39 pilgrims from Begusarai decided to undertake this pilgrimage a little differently this year.
“Usually, pilgrims go on foot or travel in cars. We thought going on bikes would set a trend,” said Raju Kumar Singh, a resident of Begusarai and one of the pilgrims.
He added: “I think this is the first time that a group of bikers from Bihar have undertaken such a trip to Deoghar.”
The journey began at Begusarai, around 125km east of Patna, on 15 sturdy motorbikes and two cars on the afternoon of July 17.
“I have been to Deoghar several times but never on a bike. I love travelling long distances on my two-wheeler. So, I took part in the journey with a lot of enthusiasm. It was a memorable experience,” said Abhinav Anand, another pilgrim and resident of Begusarai.
Travelling at an average speed of 20kmph, the group reached Sultanganj, around 140km east of Begusarai and around 250km east of Patna, at 7pm on July 17. Like other kanwariyas, the biker pilgrims collected water from the Ganga.
“After collecting the holy water, we drove down to Rampur, around 10km from Sultanganj. We spent the night at a government school in Rampur,” said Singh.
He added: “Our journey started again the next morning (July 18). The distance between Rampur and Deoghar is around 90km. The roads were full of saffron-clad kanwariyas on foot and in cars. The atmosphere was lively with a lot of the pilgrims chanting the name of Shiva. We offered tea to our fellow pilgrims when we passed them.”
The biker pilgrims reached their destination around 3pm on July 18.
“There was a festive mood in the town with pilgrims chanting and singing all the way to the temple. We parked our bikes around 200m from the temple and took a bath. Then we queued up to offer the holy water to the Shiva lingam at the temple,” said Raushan Singh, one of the bikers and a MBA student at Xavier Institute of Social Service, Ranchi.
Singh said: “It was great fun, as we were the centre of attention in Deoghar.”
Pilgrimage over, the pilgrims returned home with unforgettable memories. “It was raining throughout the journey. We were singing all along. It was an unforgettable experience,” said Shishir Kumar, an undergraduate student from Begusarai.