My Grandfather, Dr. Indramani Malhotra a.k.a. Indermani Shastri passed away at the very beginning of Uttarayana (ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uttarayana), early morning of January 15th this year. So it was some days after Makar Sakranti when we went to Haridwar with almost the entire Malhotra clan. My father was offering the last prayers when we were strolling on the stairs on the banks of river Ganga and commenting upon the Hindu rites that cause a lot of non-biodegradable stuff being piously poured into the river Ganga.
A lot of kites were flying overhead, some just a few feets above the fast-flowing river. It was a beautiful sight, with the bright kites and their reflections in the clean water. It was very crowded with many people offering pooja's for the same purpose as us.
Apart from the pundits and the bereaved families, a few cows and a lot of monkeys were also lurking around. Monkeys were very aggressive and though they were afraid of coming down to the Pooja grounds, they were very noisy and grabbed any eatable that they could lay their hands upon.
We were enjoying this interesting chaos, when someone shouted aloud from the bridge a few meters away. It was a boy of 13 or 14 yrs who was shouting and pointing at something in the air. On following the direction where he was pointing, we noticed an eagle that was caught in a kite's twine and was being dragged towards the furious river. Struggling to break free, it touched the ice cold water and went in. A few seconds later, it bobbed up, still trying to get free. But soon it gave up the fight against the mighty river and flowed freely with the water.
We thought that it was gone when one man, about 25-30 yrs old, stripped down to his underwear and jumped inside the cold water. He swam with the flow and grabbed the unconscious eagle and brought him to the bank. He handed the eagle over to the main Pundit who disentangled the twine and wrapped the eagle in a dry towel.
Just then, all monkeys gathered on the tree under which the pundit was sitting holding the eagle, who was slowly reviving. He carried the eagle inside one of the small rooms to protect it from the mischievous monkeys. This was the last that I saw of this eagle, but I am sure that it must still be alive flying above the Holy river Ganga, aware of the fact that the humans below are looking after it.