The Temple Tryst
Early this year, I was with my parents, and thanks to the situation at work then, I could spend one full week relaxing at home. No mailbox, no internet, no code.
It was a Sunday morning - after having slept for over ten hours, and still unwilling to get out of my cozy territory, I was awake, listening to the familiar chirp of sparrows outside my window, hearing the sound of water being sprinkled at the lawn, I was waiting for papa to begin loosing temper trying to wake me up, scream at me, and eventually start blaming mom for having spoilt me.
I just love the scene. It happens all over, each Sunday.
I was smiling, as I slyly slid out of the blanket.
“We are going to the temple today”, mom announced. I wasn’t interested in going at first, and only agreed because I could see it meant a lot to her.
So there I was - neat and tidy, all set to carry out the morning pooja at “Dadavadi” (a variant of Jain temples). The place is on a riverbank, over a raised piece of land offering a just perfect view of this relatively silent river. As we entered, and I filled my lungs with a large gulp of fresh air, climbing those beautiful stairs veiled with flowers on both sides, I could sense what I miss by not being able to come here often.
I knelt before the idol and placed my forehead on the floor, feeling my back arch into a perfect curve of earnestness. I rung the brass bell and even felt the smallest resonation in my feet.
Pujaariji (the priest) wore a dull white kurta with dhoti. I wondered why he was always so happy. It was already about 30 degrees outside and he wasn’t getting paid - but he rushed around the place making sure all the rituals and formalities of pooja are well done, and also he sang along heartily with us. There were few other folks contributing to the proceedings. None knew each other, yet mutual smiles were in the air. All of us sang the “aarti” together, some reciting it out from those huge wall hangings, others just uttering with closed eyes. The tone was captivating.
For a while in the middle, I stopped singing, opened my eyes and looked around. Each soul had disowned all worries of the world, surrendered to the supreme, and for that moment, seen God. I respected the feeling of unconditional acceptance, admired people’s compassion to their fellow human beings, but most of all I enjoyed feeling like I was part of something greater than me, entirely human and inherently flawed, like one big ratty blanket that encompassed everything that was.
That day, I had embraced society a little more, and contrary to what I had expected, it did not diminish me as a person at all. Everyday I encounter some new truth about the world that makes it necessary to completely re-evaluate my beliefs. It is painful at times, but most enlightening.