October 27, 2013

Tu na jaane aaspaas hai khuda...

I was traveling back home the other day, when a familiar sight passed by my line of vision. There were a bunch of people gathered near a small shrine around the corner. Most were lighting votive candles, offering fragrant agarbathies, fresh flowers and fruit to the deity, while some others were bowing their heads and silently praying. Passing cars slowed down as they approached the spot and the occupants would either descend from the commute or offer their respect by folding palms. It was just then that my cell phone beeped indicating I had received one new e-mail. When I distractedly checked my inbox, I saw that the mail was about the Pure Pray contest run by Cycle Pure Agarbathies. Smiling at the bizarre coincidence, I decided there and then that I would participate and submit my entry before the mentioned deadline.

Back home, the incident had got me started thinking along the same lines. They say that prayers offered at this particular shrine (the one I had mentioned earlier) are surely answered, and it is for this very reason that this roadside temple is always inhabited by tourists and locals, alike. I remember, during my student days in Medical College, I would always halt there and say a special prayer to either postpone the exam or make me fare well in them. 99% of the times, either one of the two would happen thereby reinforcing my faith in the popular belief associated with the temple and the positive power of prayer.

I remember how my mom had first explained to me the meaning of prayer. I was six then, a hyperactive brat and to top it, one who was highly inquisitive..
"How do I pray?" I had asked, wondering if there were any specific instructions to be followed for God to answer my prayers. I had seen my mother have a fresh bath early in the morning, drape her self in a crisp cotton saree, tie a towel around her freshly washed hair, and enter the puja roon, chanting the names of what seemed to my young ears, a million different Gods. Afraid that God would not grant me the dream doll-house I'd so badly wanted as a birthday gift if I did not pray right,  I sullenly complained to my mother that I did not know any chant or 'shloka' to appease the Gods with.
"There is no correct or wrong way to pray, dear. These are all but different names of the same God. Don't you worry----speak to him like you would speak to a friend. A friend who will protect you and guide you through every phase of life. Just remember him and he will be there," she patiently explained.
I liked that, a new friend for life. One that everyone prayed to, one whom all evil was afraid of, one that obstacles and hurdles fled from...I could speak to him like I spoke to my best friend from school. What fun!! So off I went, with a smile on my lips and a spring in my step, convinced that I now possessed the sacrosanct secret that would simply the complicated versions of all the mighty shloka and chants in the world...and it actually did...

I now started pestering God with all the nitty gritty details of my life. What happened at school, who snatched my compass box, which teacher treated me well and who didn't, what I wanted for my upcoming birthday, everything was discussed and debated upon with great gusto.
As I grew up, topics of conversation varied. My demands turned more complex. My complaints got more adamant. My tantrums more unpredictable. But HE listened. HE always listened.
Each time I had something to tell him, I would simply close my eyes and call out to him. A strange sense of calmness has never ceased to fill me when I do that.  Even today, all I have to do is close my eyes and believe he is right in front of me. That is the beauty of prayer. It forms an instant connection with the almighty by helping you peep into the deepest corner of your soul, because that is where God truly resides.

Over the years, I came to realise that God has another name...conscience. I learnt that I can stay in touch with that small muffled voice inside me, only if I try and listen to it. Praying taught me to recognise that voice, to lend a patient ear to it and comply. This made me far more patient and understanding, in that way prayer in itself is a meditative practice which works wonders for self improvement. As a matter of fact, prayer is far stronger than meditation, because in prayer, we seek comfort in an entity far stronger than our selves; that higher source of power becomes the support system that we lean on.
Prayer is a thought, a belief, a feeling that is born from the faith that grows within us, faith in a supreme force that will protect us, guard us and save us against all calamities.
I now pray because it helps me connect with this force. It reinforces my belief that there is someone who will always take care of me and my loved ones. It strengthens my faith in love and forgiveness. It provides me a venting board to admit all my weaknesses and hence improve upon them. It convinces me that words are not always needed to express what I feel, that my prayers are understood even through the silence.
Praying is simple. It does not require a particular time. During my school days, I would think that prayer had fixed timings; It was almost a ritual---the early morning assembly at school where we would start the day with a morning prayer, and  the 'night time prayer' before going to bed. But with age and maturity, I have come to understand that prayer does not have to be a compulsory ritual. I pray whenever I think of HIM. I say a quick prayer when I'm afraid...when I'm in any sort of threat or danger...when I want a little impromptu wish to be granted....and sometimes just to say 'Thankyou'.
When there is something weighing down my conscience I pray for forgiveness.Its the sure shot way of finding the much needed peace of mind that we strive so much to attain. When something good comes my way, I say a quick 'Thankyou' just to show how grateful I am. I must admit that I forget sometimes. Human as we are, we often forget to say 'Sorry' and 'Thankyou' but rest assured, he understands. That is the connection prayer creates--a cosmic relation with a much higher force that
helps us attain inner peace and tranquility, forgives us, heals us and gives us reasons to be grateful for.
In fact, that is the main reason why I pray. I pray because I know HE is listening...
We might not see HIM, but HE is always around...

Last but not the least, I pray for the well being of my fellow Indians, my country, my family, my loved ones and my own self. It is this well being that my future and the future of millions of interconnected lives depend upon.
I pray for each and every person who has helped me in any way, no matter how small. It is because of them that I have managed to take tiny steps towards achieving whatever I have today.
I pray for them whom I might have unknowingly wronged and those who have unknowingly wronged me. It is they who have helped me grow up in ways that they (or at times, even me) are not even aware of.
I pray for you. It is you who reminds me how much I could love...once.

Beckoning like rays of the morning sun,
as each dark night turns to a new day,
is the gratitude and hope we hold so dear,
                                               that makes us bow before HIM and pray...

In a country like ours where there reside people of diverse religions, castes, sub castes, there is no dearth of festivals to celebrate. No matter how diverse our culture and traditions may be, the basic essence of all religious festivals is the same---heart felt prayer. We are thus united by the same Almighty, the same Ganpati Bappa, the same Allah.
Ask any Indian and he will be willing to celebrate every festival as his own. Whether it is Diwali, Christmas or Eid, all occasions are thoroughly enjoyed and reverently regarded. These festivals form an integral part of our lives and give us reason to stay together.
But in today's busy world, we often find ourselves weighed down by the stress and strain of lives to indulge wholeheartedly in these festivities. We often find the responsible members of the family running to and fro, to buy all the essentials of the pooja---the flowers, the agarbathies and other paraphernalia. Something or the other gets left out at the last moment, as a result of which there is undue chaos, dampening the festive atmosphere.
For all those who are thinking of Diwali and already heaving a huge sigh on reading the above, fear not. There is good news for all us stress magnets. Cycle Pure Agarbathies presents Sampoorna Lakshmi Pooja Pack---a simple and tension-free pooja, brought together, complete and made-easy. This is a pack that includes everything you would need to perform the Lakshmi Pooja. This pack contains all basic materials required for the pooja as mentioned in the Skanda Purana. The booklet (scripted in 6 languages) and audio CD have the procedure, necessary shlokas and Shree Vinayak Ashtottarashata Naamaavali for performing the pooja. This pack comes with instruction booklet & CD, so that you can recite the shloka along with the CD.
This Lakshmi Pooja Pack would also serve as a very good gift for someone who is recently married or someone living away from home or abroad. Your friends and near ones would bless you for this convenient and perfectly organized idea.
As for me, I plan to make this Diwali a stress free one, one that is perfectly coordinated, easily arranged, filled with oodles of fun, lots of prayers, tons of blessings and loads of love.

Wish You All A Very Happy, Healthy And Prosperous Diwali! :)

May all our prayers be answered,
and may we never run out of reasons to say 'Thankyou'...


Aditya said...

Wonderfully written and beautifully encompasses the meaning of prayer.
The 'Laximi Pooja Pack' seems a great idea...will check it out as it is perfect for confused &anxious ppl like me :-)

Adi said...

Wish you and your family a very very happy and prosperous Diwali too :)

Aditya aka Adi said...

The above two comments were by the same 'ME' :)

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

Prayers must have the simplicity as of the principle of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly). You're mother told you a great secret, but how many of us believe that, unless there is gratification?

A beautiful post there!

Blasphemous Aesthete

Maddie Candie said...

And my prayer was heard :) I am back..the thoughtful me .. and m glad u were there now n ever..praying all your prayers are answered..and may you continue to use words..and play along with them..
I missed the Doc's thoughtful nostalgia..and now i wont.. :) indeed God and Love is everywhere..

Rohit_blogger at http://floating-expressions.blogspot.in/ said...

straight from the heart,the emotions shimmering in the lines.