While praying in the temple…

Just like every other new year, for as long as I can remember, I stood beside my mother.

I hear the Indian tablas playing in the background, as a girl’s sweet voice accompanies the melody, singing devotional songs.

People of every age, dressed in traditional indian clothes raises up their hands, bow their head as they enter the temple and pray.

Little children running around, are stopped and told to behave by their parents.

The scent of flowers, milk and incense linger my senses.

I keep looking around…

For some reason, all I saw was pretentious people.

Instantly, I felt bad for thinking in such manner. WTH! I’m in a temple, I shouldn’t be thinking such a way. Just because I can’t concentrate and pray, I’m accusing others.

But… that thought kept lingering. Something is not right in here.

I felt some are just “praying” for the sake of it. Maybe they feel prayers could wash away their sins, or they feel it’s their duty. I don’t know. But I somehow can’t sense humility, gratitude and love here, in a place where it is supposed to be the closest to God.

Many people have been brought up in a society where they fear God. “God is watching your every step. If you do not pray, he’s gonna punish you!”

I was not brought up that way, and I definitely can’t understand why someone would think in such manner!

Would God, the ultimate power that created every single microscopic detail, to every element of the universe (which our minds can’t even comprehend how large it is) be angry and punish me, if I do not offer him flowers and fruits and chant mantras?

I heard someone say once, “If God truly decides to punish u, he could do it in such a way you couldn’t even possibly imagine in your wildest dreams – incidents like tsunami would be just be the icing on the cake”.

Human beings have manipulated religion to their own benefit. And others are just “devotionally” tagging along without any consciousness. I mean, I can’t understand how ridicules people can get!

I’m not against religion or God here. Please don’t mistake me but it’s just the people, and how their mind can work.

Ever since I was young, I was an out-cast in my extended family because I don’t know how to sing devotional songs and I do not go to temple and pray. I admit, even now, I don’t know the right method to pray.

But has that made me any lesser as a human being? No, I don’t think so.

Do I believe in God? Of course, yes. But I certainly do not believe in this drama that most people act out.

The holy place of prayer becomes a central spot for gossiping. I’ve seen it in so many temples, churches where people ridicule each other.

They go faithfully and pray every morning but they fail to respect another human being. They donate (a good thing, yes) but they do not feel the slightest empathy for someone who’s in pain. They seem to know all the mantras to chant, but they must have forgotten their manners in the process.

It saddens me…

I look up at Lord Ganesh and the prayers are almost done. I close my eyes and I inhale deeply.

I pray. For inspiration, for strength and I pray for love.

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