THE PUJA AT RED FORT
In the second trip, got a chance to go to Delhi during the Autumn term 1972. We stayed under the arrangements of a Gorkha Bn which was then in the Red Fort. It was my first visit to Delhi, enjoyed the food in the numerous eateries just outside the Red Fort/Chandni Chowk areas and visited many monuments.
A few days later, it was Dussehra time while we were still there. We were told to be present at the ground for the ceremonies conducted by the Bn. These included sacrifices, as then permitted, and were quite a shock for a vegetarian like me.
The process of selection of the Jawan for the task and the importance of the ceremonies was explained, for the person selected for the task, it was a great honour. It was a fairly long-drawn-out process with individual offerings of chicken/fowl, followed by goats etc being carried out initially. After some time, the moment for the major sacrifice of the day, which everyone was eagerly awaiting, arrived.
The Jawan who had successfully carried out THE sacrifice in one swoop, was brought around to the shamiana where we all were sitting and rightfully paraded as a hero for the day. Then, everyone was offered Tirth/Theertham having attended the ceremony as is the custom. A revered tradition, it could not be avoided. The only reason for thinking of avoiding it was that it was dark coloured and although we gulped it, it was a very strong and potent potion. It was probably a diluted or undiluted XXX portion. The movement of the liquid through the body could be felt even better than by an X-ray machine.
Years later, I was on deputation to Assam Rifles and people there were surprised to see me attend all the ceremonies including Kaal Ratri and fully participate in them, even though a Signaller.