Friday, November 10, 2017

Mawphlang: of sacred groves, monoliths and promises.

But before you enter the sacred grove,
Take off the cloak, the mask, the camouflage.
Bring in the real you--
bare and brilliant
single and sufficient
older than time
younger than the last breath
no body
no mind
no iffs
no buts
no good
no bad
no likes
no dislikes
no memories
no plans
no past
no future
no family
no friends
no ties
no loose ends
no laughter
no sadness
no highs
no lows

a drop in the ocean
an ocean within a drop

Like a ripple seeking its shore

Come ...

meet your shore

He's been waiting for you all his life too.
More than four weeks ago, I found myself in this sacred grove: 
an old and protected forest in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, 
standing guard to the village of Mawphlang--
maw means stone, maw phlang: grassy stone.
A village, like many in this region, named after monoliths.
"Our Ancestors promised the Guarding Spirits of this land that we'd never build any houses near this forest, that we'd never take anything from the forest, that this piece of land is for the Spirits to roam and live. This is the promise our Elders made and we keep."
Basha, our guide, our soft spoken Khasi guide tells us.  
"This is where everything is prepared for the coronation.
Only the King and the Elders go on to the coronation from here.
The rest of the people wait here.
If the Elders forget to take anything they need for the coronation, they can not come back to fetch it. This is the place they must prepare before they carry on."
Basha continues.

I feel like I've stepped into the world of the Round Table and any minute now, King Arthur will appear.
This is where the coronation takes plays, says Basha, our guide with soulful eyes.
He speaks so softly, I have to still my thoughts to hear his words.
His pools of honey eyes gaze upon the trees, the moss, the mushrooms, the branches and the stones
like this is the first time he's stepped inside this scared place.

The lime tree with his regal spikes
And its fruit that the birds ate...

Basha seems to know every inch of this almost 80 hectares of forest --
a sacred place: you take NOTHING from this forest
and even when you enter, you enter with good intentions.
No trees are cut, no branches felled, no fruit is picked, nothing is taken
but somehow the forest gives and gives.

There's a presence in this grove:
Ancient and Wise--
like a portal,
He beckons you
to step into the forest
and leave the jungle behind,
move towards a stillness
and cast the mad rush aside.
Basha, like many Khasi youth, is always there to show you around the Sacred Grove.
This symbiosis of man and earth:
of promises made and kept--
protected trees
 and sacred souls--
makes me wonder
why the rest of the us can't be more like the people of Mawphlang?

Step into this reminder of what we were really meant to be,
and how far away we have wandered.
Are we lost?
Is it time to head home?
Let's take the first step.
To be home.
To be.
Have a beautiful weekend.


  1. Wow Arti, each time i hear you describe any new place, i simply feel like joining you in those journeys, retiring temporarily from all my commitments to family, work & just live by myself for a few days!
    ...and each time i see those brilliant clicks from your lens, a tune rings in my ear, “yeh kaun chitrakar hain? Hain yeh kaun chitrakar?”
    On a serious note, is it really possible to live like nature in its purest form, staying as vibrant and strong? Feeling as complete like a mothers love for her kids?
    Without taking out anything, this forest teaches us to live and let live, to let go and let things be... as is. Simply wow .... as brilliant as always. Thanks for sharing. - Vidya Shenoy

    1. Thank you Vidya for your words and thoughts. xx

  2. Thank you, Arti for leading into sacred space this day. Just what I needed. I am travelling uneven ground toward an uncertain destination these past weeks as my husband's health has come into question. Deep gratitude for your steadying words. Hugs xx

    1. Hi April. Hope your husband's health is improving. Keeping you and him in my prayers today. hugs. xx

  3. Arti....this was worth the wait! What a wonderful word-picture you have created! And those amazing photos just add the scenery....beautiful piece, beautiful images. Especially the photo with the blue mushrooms, or some wild growth, is fascinating.

    The reader automatically enters this magic world from the word go. You have seemingly effortlessly conveyed a very fundamental message without being preachy....of preserving what the nature has provided. Bravo!

    Keep travelling and keep writing :-)

    1. Thank you dear Ruchita. And as long as I can move, I'll do everything in my power to travel and write and share:) You know me--right?

  4. Such wonderful words. Your writing and pictures always equally inspire me. Thank you for taking us to such eternal places.

    1. So glad you came along on this trip Pinkz. Meghalaya is magical. I didn't have to do much--just stood and stared:)

  5. Arti, this is so beautiful! Every time I visit you here, my breath is taken away by your words & images. Also, i loved the music video at the end. There's something magical about the music of India. I hope you've been well, dear friend. Happy New Year! I'll be sending you an email soon. xo

  6. Hi Pauline. Thank you for visiting:) I have been away from blogging (no idea why!) I guess a mix of super busy periods followed by super lazy ones:) I do hope to get down to some regular writing soon. Hope to visit your blog and bask in your words too. Happy New year my dear friend. xx


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