Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What's My Reason To Pray?

Praying is one of those words that invokes a series of thoughts, memories, images -  almost like a film reel, for me. I was born a Hindu family, where my grandparents did everyday aartis twice a day and my dad followed suit, my mom wasnt that stern but she kept all the fasts and did all the ceremonious pujas. Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi were all a big deal in my house. Yummy treats and hours of chanting shlokas and hymns in the name of the lord. My grandmother made sure that all of us girls knew the regular shlokas and could recite them at the drop of a hat. I must say she did a pretty good job at that, even after so many years, I remember all of them and can recite them in one breath!

School. I went to a Christian school and can put even the devout Christians to shame in singing Christmas carols and such. I had a Muslim best friend in school, and I learnt a lot about the religion, thanks to her gracious mother and her attachment to Islam.

Fast forward a few years and my family found peace in Soka Gakkai – a sect of Buddhism, practicing the philosophies of Nichiren Daishonin. My family is still Hindu but they follow this philosophy as close to their heart as they can. They are bi-belief, if you will.

Me? Oh yes, I am supposed to write about myself. With my life dotted with so many religions, such lovely spiritual intervention, I’m supposed to be the quintessential believer of everything God. Unfortunately, I am not. I don’t like to say I am an atheist, because honestly, I am not that smart to support the statement and I do look for solace when everything else fails me. I like to call myself a Believer. Agnostic, not really. I don’t really worry about the existence of God. I just believe in certain things, people, phenomenon which drive my world and gives me hope in the time of despair.
So, what really do I pray for? I am not your regular devotee, so I don’t really sit crosslegged in the temple and beg for the highest marks in English and the passing grade in Maths. I go out, I wish for the tree across the street to always be green, blooming and provide shade to everyone. It’s my way of praying, or believing. I believe in the squirrel jumping from one branch to another that she wont ever hurt herself. I will for my mom to get into the prestigious school she applied to. I pass on my belief to my grandmother who is aging, and losing hope. I chat up my grandfather, who is one of the brightest stars in the sky, asking him what was the hurry to leave us all behind. I hope the cute guy from across the table is catching my eye and would walk up to me and give me his number. My heart cries for everyone who is killed, raped, tortured and I wish for the sun to shine bright on their lives. I believe in the unchartered path that mother nature wants me to take. I will for everything to be serene and calm and undisturbed. I work hard for my peace of mind, and harder for food on my table. I am grateful for all the luxuries I have in life, and count my blessings for being so loved.

I think about you, I think about me. I hope for the best for everyone I know and occasionally deduct blessings when I am extremely irate. I don’t sit in front of idols and chant shlokas anymore, mainly because my grandmother lives far away and can’t see what I do and also because my ceremony, my prayer, my ritual and my causes seem more realistic and answerable to me. I find it so much more relaxing than sitting in a puja for three hours dressed in your finest and thinking about the time when you could just run off.

But that’s me. I respect all religions, not to say so because I love being clich√© but more because I have been in close contact with a lot of them and I see the goodness behind them all.  I will never insult your ceremony, if you invite me to your puja, I will sit there and listen with utmost attention and do everything needed. I will still dress up every Diwali and do the usual puja, but that's not my idea of praying. I am not the kind to do communal praying. I respect you if you find solace in the age old ceremonies and rituals, but I am more of a free bird. Having said that, I have always been very attached with agarbatties. Call it nostalgia striking back or just the heavenly aroma, I always have some lighted at my house. It just converts a house into a home instantly. I don't use it to signify anything related to a ritual or a ceremony, because, honestly, I make my own rituals and pray in my own special way, for perhaps the same things in life! But aggarbatties invoke a lot of memories, from diwali (lighting one aggarbatti to last through your entire stock of ladis) to housewarming ceremonies, to watching it light up and turn a brilliant shade of orange and playing with the embers, to fancy variety lavender and all that jazz. Cycle has like been the only brand which everyone in my house preferred and we always had a overstock of them! This festive season, I think, I'm just going to buy some of the simple Lakshmi Pooja Packs for my room and my home to remember my childhood and get all those beautiful memories rushing back.

This post is in association with Pure Prayer - Cycle Agarbathies.


Nikhil said...

This post says a lot about you. Always good to know ,what kinda person has written down the post that I just read. And I am glad to have read this post& to have known a lil. bit about you via this post.
I could relate it to myself.
I do think praying/believing in god is not always going to the church or reciting a couple of chants in front of an idol ,no offense meant to anyone who does because it is what he/she believes in & it's ok to do what you believe in. Faith is the driving force which makes ur pray or believe & if we believe that what we are wishing for /believing in comes to be true , then that is indeed faith & that ought to do it.
Like they say "Believeing is half the cure".
But an add on to that:We ought to remember the lord every once in a while for what he have , not just when we are in pain & want something.
Excellent post , I must say.Look what it made me do. Wrote a post almost as long as a post :p :p.
Keep it up Apurva! :)


Apurva said...

Hey Nikhil,

I think you summed it up better in your short post than my long on It doesnt matter how you reach out.. what matters is that you acknowledge someone else except you.

That is something i believe in too. That it's not just in sadness that you think of the lord. Think of him in your happiness too.. :)

sulagna ™ said...

:) Apurva you actually made me compliment your memory on how could you remember the brand of agarbattis in your house from so long back :) then i saw the link after the post.

You sound so much like me when you write about praying..i beleive in simple thanks you and telling him how content you are..thats as much as He wants

Apurva said...

Sulagna.. You know, I actually remembered this one :) It was rampant in my house!

Yes..fancy stuff is not what we were born with or die with..so what you said is absolutely right!

Nikhil said...

I am glad to tell you that , I have nominated you for a Liebster Blog Award on my blog.:)
Please check out the following link & go through the rules & guidelines for accepting the award.:)