Friday, Oct 07, 2022
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Welcome Aboard The Shri Ramayana Express

On the heels of Ram bhakts aboard a careworn train on an epic journey, where workaday discomfiture is swept away by timely tides of devotion

Rail Parva Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari

As the train staggers out of the platform, Ramakant Agarwal lays his palms on his chest in an act of devotion, as speakers fixed above ceiling fans in the sleeper-class coach plays on loop a holy muzik: “Ram Siya Ram, Ram Siya Ram….” The stars and the planets favour the retired banker, now an astrologer. Sitting next to the 70-year-old man in thick spectacles—sparkling gems on his beringed fingers, a marigold garland around his neck, a smattering of rose petals in his hair and a vermillion mark on his forehead from the ceremonial welcome—is wife Uma, a retired college principal, who carries a home-stitched purple handbag.

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