India has many holy places. In addition to man made temples, rivers such as the Ganges and mountains such as Mount Kailash are considered holy. Like the temples, these are considered as places where the physical world is closer to the domain of the Devas and of God. For Hindus outside India visiting such places might be a once in a lifetime pilgrimage. I hope that I will one day be able to visit these sacred sites, but I have not been in a position to do so yet.
However there may be holy places nearer to home. Some of these places may have been recognised as holy in ancient times. Originally the message of the Vedas was known through the world. Symbols such as the Swastika stone on Ilkley Moor show that these places were revered by our ancestors. The atmosphere of sacredness and the closeness to the spiritual world is still present today.
Other places might give themselves away because of the feeling of sacredness. I have often felt this when walking in the mountains, certain peaks just have that kind of atmosphere. People may be attracted to them without knowing why.
The River Aire has been selected as a place where Hindus can scatter ashes. One of the tributaries of this river flows through Janet’s Foss, a site that has a mystic atmosphere . There is a legend that a “faerie queen” lived here. Could this be a Devi, and this river in England used for Hindu burials be a lesser sister of Ma Ganga in India? I don’t believe that this was a conscious thought when Hindus applied for permission to scatter ashes in the Aire, but I like to think so. When people undertake things for spiritual reasons, things happen in the way they are meant to.
It’s ironic that as an English convert to Hinduism I now have a stronger connection to my land and my ancestors than I did before. Perhaps it’s not surprising though, as Hinduism preserves the belief in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the whole world is one family, which has been lost in much of the world in modern times.The photographs used in this article are licensed under the Creative Commons License and were sourced from the Wikipedia. articles “Janet’s Foss“, and “Swastika Stone“.