Temples (NaBloPoMo- Take 2)

Today morning when I got a message from my brother that he and our parents had gone to the temple, my heart yearned to be with them. I wished to God that I could have gone with them too.

Its one thing I miss having here. A temple. There are no temples in Doha and I feel something amiss because of that. Although we do have a corner in our house where we have kept our deities and where R, Namnam & I pray. Still there’s something about temples that brings a peaceful, calming effect to my being.

Sometimes I wonder why? Why do I feel so much at peace and so connected to God when I’m inside a shrine? Yes I do try to think practically and tell myself that if God resides in me then it doesnt matter if I get to go to a temple or simply pray at home and be connected to Him. And frankly that belief has helped me stay calm and sane this far.

Yet, when I’m in a temple, the very aura makes my devotion even more passionate and I feel even closer to God. The very minute I enter a temple, hundreds of diyas lit up in the wee hours of the morning illuminates my whole being. There’s something magical about those devotional songs even. They sound profound despite blaring through the loudspeakers. And those chants that start on a lower octave hit the highest octave filled with utmost piety, when the priest opens the Nada* amidst chiming of bells and sprinkling of water and rose petals, to give everyone present there a beautiful glimpse of God.

I dont know what is it that makes temples so special . Maybe it has to do with my growing up years where going to temples was a part of a routine and much looked forward to. Or maybe its vaastu or some spiritual pull. Whatever be the reason, the sense of tranquility and inner peace is something that I’ve felt at noplace else.

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I’m not superstitious…touchwood!

A couple of days back I was getting my kitchen cleaned.While having one of the shelves rearranged in the process,I asked my cleaner,N,to keep the salt-jar in its usual top-shelf.When I went to the kitchen to check on the progress,I noticed that the salt-jar was kept at the counter top instead.Now,I was miffed that N had disregarded my instruction,so asked him why he had not kept it in the shelf.He said,”salt should always be kept at a low-lying surface.Else its considered bad omen”.

I know he meant well,but I was annoyed even more so,that he was trying to force his beliefs on me.So I bluntly told him that R & I didn’t follow such superstitions in our house,hence the jar be kept in the top shelf only.

Even though N has never tried to voice his superstitious beliefs ever since,the one wisdom that he imparted has had the intended impact.I have found myself having second thoughts every time I’ve had to keep the salt-jar back in the shelf after using it.I would have the disturbing ‘what if’ or ‘should I,should I not’ thoughts,brush them aside and move on.

Till the day before the incident,I didnt even know about such a superstition.I could easily take my salt jar from the top shelf,use it,keep it back at its designated place,without even thinking twice and live my life happily.But now,the awareness that a ridiculous superstition is attached to it has dictated my whole thought-process!

I have come across many superstitions in my life.I have listed a few in one of my earlier posts even.And I have learnt to understand the futility of them in my life over a period of time.Or so I thought.

This one incident has made me think,howsoever much you try to detach yourself from superstitious beliefs,you’ll still be pulled back in its vicious web.

How superstitious are you?

I keep asking that to myself very frequently.Although I know for sure that I am superstitious,I cant decide to what length I am.
A major portion of my growing up years has been spent with my maternal grandparents.Since both my parents were working my grandparents took on the responsibility of looking after me and Rags as the concept of recruiting a Nanny or sending your children to a creche was widely discouraged in our family.I’m glad they did as I now realise that leaving your child with your parents is much better and safer than leaving him/her in the care of a babysitter.Today whatever values have been instilled in me,I have my Ammamma and Achachan also to thank as much as Amma&Achan.

Having said that,I feel if my Ammamma and Achachan were a bit broader and less conservative in their beliefs,I would have been probably a different person today.More practical maybe.Even though they were settled in Delhi,their thoughts and mindsets were that of a typical orthodox Hindu malayali.Superstitious beliefs were inbuilt in them.So I was exposed to many a ridiculous beliefs from very early on.Some of them being….

Girls should always apply oil on hair on Tuesdays and Fridays and boys on Wednesdays and Saturdays.While I was growing I was told if I adhered to that my hair would grow longer and longer and longer,raised to the power of infinity!Anyone who has seen me would vouch for the fact that that was one belief that I certainly didn’t pay much heed to.My hair never grew beyond my shoulders!

You should never sit on a pillow,lest you should lose all your wealth.Bill Gates,take a note of that!You too,Tatas,Birlas,Ambanis and all those filthy rich people!

Never scatter salt on floor else you lose your wealth yet again!This is something even Ravs grew up believing like me.And now when we are at a restaurant and we, unknowingly spill some salt on the table,our reflexes would be in perfect harmony to take a pinch of the spilled salt from the table and throw it back over our shoulders.I know I know you would be thinking we are weird.But people,this is what we were told we should do to keep our ill-fate at bay in case we spilled salt!Come on,we are here in the Gulf to make money and not to un-make money!!

You should never watch moon on a Tue.If you do,then there will be a death in the family soon.How frighteningly ridiculous is that!

You should never cover your head with a white towel.If you do,then YOU will be the one dead soon!

Another one on the inevitable death is-Never let a lizard fall on your head or shoulder,else….yes,you guessed it right,Yamraj/Kaalan will come knocking on the door!

Fluttering of your left eye is an indication that an unfortunate incident is on its way.This is a very common superstition which I’m sure many of you would have heard about and some of you would even be believing in it.

You should not address a person from the back just when he/she is about to leave the house on work in which case it is believed the work will not be fulfilled.I remember the amount of scorns my grandmother had to endure from my grandfather whenever she had something very important to say to him and called him from his back just when he was about to leave home for work.

Another one in close lines with the previous one is-you should not recede your steps right after you leave your doorstep to go out.This is a belief I blindly practice though.It invariably so happens that Ravs forgets his mobile right after he leaves home for office and I forbid him from taking even one step back into the house.I go inside and get the mobile for him.

Another very popular superstition is when a black cat crosses your way making you believe its a sign of hindrance to all your endeavours for the day and you end up putting all your plans aside for another day and time when the black cat is out of your sight!

Then there is this superstition that my father still professes.It is not to plan anything after having your dinner.He believes if you make plans after dinner then they will never be implemented.

When I became a mother I was surrounded by these strange know-all well wishers who used to bombard me with various ideologies.I dont remember very many.Some that I do,I’m listing below.As and when I recollect more I’ll edit to add:)

I used to be told the louder my baby wailed the better the singer she would be.I’m not sure if she will grow up to be a singer(it will be a dream come true if she does),but hers surely is the loudest wail on the planet!Yeah sure!

And if I shaved my baby’s head before she turned two she would have long and thick hair.After my experience,I was certainly ready to forego this belief and not have her ‘Mundan’.From what I observe now,she has a much better textured hair than me.

I’ve listed about 13 and I’m certainly not going to stop at that.!13 is an unlucky number,you see.You’ve heard of that belief,haven’t you?So here is another one that I add

When our daughter began to attempt her first turn,R & I were told that if she turned to her left first,we’d be blessed with a son next and if she turned to her right,then we’d have a daughter.Or was it the other way round?We’ll know if and when I have my second child!

R and I are frantically trying to do away with our superstitions so that our daughter does not nurture any of the senseless beliefs that we have nurtured throughout our lives.I don’t know how far we’ll be successful.Whats the harm in trying anyway,isn’t it?

So,tell me,how superstitious are YOU?Do you have any interesting anecdotes to share?Or are you one of those more practical kinds who don’t believe in superstitions?