Friday, October 11, 2013

The God among us

      The concept of prayers and God has changed over time for me. We all start as unquestioning devotees and over the years continue to remain the same or we become critical. We get influenced by the thoughts we come across, the books we read, the people we meet and the situations we experience.

       Till I was 5 years old, I went to the temple daily. My grandparents would take me along with them and I would sit through their prayers and learnt to say my prayers. Sometimes my aunt would take me to the temple and after that she would treat me to kulfi. Late in the evening, father would come from work and carry me home. On our way from grandparents' house, we would pass by the Sai Baba temple. I would wiggle out of father's arms and bow in front of the idol and pray. I would tell Sai Baba to guard me always. I would then stretch my hand for the sweets that laid in front of the idol and the priest would indulge me with two. It became a routine for me. My prayers would include:
       Health for my grandparents
       Marriage for my aunt
       Money for my parents
       Intelligence for me
       At the end I would say, "You alone guard us".

      A couple of years after that, I had a younger brother who now added to my list. However, I no longer stayed with grandparents and the visit to temple became less frequent.
      The nearest temple from my house was a Hanuman temple. I would go there once in a while. In years to come, the temple was expanded illegally to include 3 more Gods. I began to go there more often. In my teenage years I would pray a lot to Goddess Durga. She symbolized strength and that was what I wanted the most.
      Every Friday I would visit the Goddess Durga temple which became a ritual with me and some of my relatives. Then started my 10th classes and I would accompany my friends every Tuesday to the self formed Ganesh Temple on the way home. By this time, I knew most of the prayers by heart.

      My relation with God hasn't been always of faith. I have been brought up in a house that prayed in every calamity, never once questioning the intentions of God.
      "Do whatever God brings into your mind", "God will do you good", "How did God give you the heart to do that?"- these are the phrases that I grew up hearing. Yet something changed.
      Something changed in the way I prayed. I have had instances where I have even questioned the presence of God, only to be rejuvenated with Faith. But I had stopped making so many visits to temples. I found solace in the God that resides within us. Among us. I did not need a temple to invoke the spiritual sense. I saw spirituality in giving up my seat for an old lady or accompanying an old woman who is afraid to use a lift. I did not need to offer flowers or sweets to visit my God. I would rather offer sweets to a child. I would never pray the whole day and abuse anyone who disturbs me. That is no prayer at all. Prayer is what comes from within you, without knowing any verse.

      Praying is welcoming God to dwell within . To help you overcome what, you think, you cannot. I still pray before going for an exam. If it is a difficult one, I tell my loved one to pray for me as well. So far it has always helped me. I pray for God to be with me when I have to face tough conditions. When the strength ebbs and when the world seems too unjust a place to be, I pray. It fills me with optimism. It fills me with hope.

    This Diwali, like so many others, I would make a Rangoli to welcome the Goddess. I would make imprints of her steps on the stairs. The house would be spic and span. The air filled with delicious aroma of the sweets my mother would specially make in turmeric leaves. The small temple in our house would be decorated with garlands and flowers from our plants. We would keep the offerings of fruits, sweets, new sari in front of the Goddess. As usual, there would be someone who misplaces the aarti book and we would all search for it. I would start the prayers while others would join in. The air would take the fragrance of the incense sticks and flowers to add to the ambiance of spirituality. In that one evening of prayers, we would all be together and send out a positive energy.
    This year my grandparents and aunt wouldn't be in Mumbai. They have shifted to the native last year. They too celebrated Diwali last year but the rituals there are different and they couldn't perform it the way they have been doing for years. The aarti books available were in native language which aunt couldn't read. Grandma kept whining about how they had to search for all the pooja accessories. The lakshmi pooja pack would just be the gift I could send across for them! We would all be together in our ritual, although we would be miles apart. Once they taught me to pray, I wish to give them the comfort to do the same.

     I pray for the streets to be safer.
     I pray for the justice with-held.
     I pray that innocence is never violated.
     I pray for the men who guard me while I pray.
     I pray for the maimed child I see on the bridge.
     I pray for the boy in desperate need of a job.
     I pray for the girl who fell off the train.
     I pray for the mother who lost her baby.
     I pray that the pot-bellied kid eats better.
     I pray for the trains to be little less crowded.
     I pray that we get a better crop this year.
     I pray that everyone gets a meal.
     I pray that every hand that can work, gets work.
    I pray that, Dear God, you alone guard us!


This post is part of a contest by  Cycle Puja Agarbathies


Soumya said...

And I thought this was a post about Tendulkar's retirement :P

The definition and the meaning of prayer has changed over the years. For me it hasn't. I never prayed then, never pray now. No, I'm not an atheist, the hope inside me keeps me religious enough. I know there is a power looking after us, and that is enough for me.

All the best for the contest :)

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

Amen! :)

Blasphemous Aesthete

Thamanna said...

Your post and the prayer reminded me the words of my professor who once told us that 'Prayer should always be for larger purposes than individual needs' He believes that the best prayer is 'Lokah samastha sukhino bavanthu'
Best wishes for the contest!

Keirthana said...

A very sincere and true to heart post! Kudos! Although I am a very confused soul when it comes to Theism, I believe in holding up the morals of being a human being. I call myself agnostic, bordering on the lines of theism during some miraculous times and bordering on atheism during some rational times. Whichever be it, let the world be well.

maithili said...

Haha I did not have that in mind at all :)
It's what inside that matter.
Thank you so much

maithili said...


maithili said...

Yes, that is exactly the thought. Prayers which are held in mass also have the same purpose.

maithili said...

I once read somewhere about two people arguing about the presence of God.
The believer says, " If there is no God, I only wasted 5 mins of my life everyday. If there is a God, you wasted your whole life believing otherwise."