Worship

Temples, churches, monuments, and shrines…India is such a place of devotion and worship. From Hindus to Christians, Muslims to Jews; from avatars to deities, from fire to rain…there are so many different forms and variations of faith.

As we toured these historical places, we learned some of the traditional Hindu stories of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and their consorts, Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati. It was explained that these gods and goddesses are in fact an expression of the Supreme One, with both masculine and feminine aspects that together, represent oneness. Our guide said these gods and goddesses work as a team, like complementary energies. Some of the stories were also about mischief, play, and competition. Below is a cosmic dance-off between Shiva and Parvati. The story tells of Shiva (on the right) showing off by lifting one leg up in the air to one-up his wife. Her downcast gaze shows she is not impressed! Hmmm, some things haven’t changed between couples in thousands of years…

Here is “Krishna’s Butterball“, an amazing natural phenomenon! Even through tsunamis and earthquakes, this ball of rock has not budged. I was praying that the day I took the photo was NOT the day it chose to roll…

Spiritual tradition is evident in the ongoing practices of the people from elaborate temple rituals to simple offerings of marigolds. I heard morning prayers from mosques over loud speakers and singing of Catholic hymns in Tamil in beautiful churches. But what stood out for me was the practical everyday wisdom departed by our tour guide, Jishoy. He reminded us,

The absence of light is darkness. With a single ray of light, darkness is transformed.

This was simple yet profound and reminded me of the way to BE. Not living in the darkness of judgment, criticism, anger, or fear, but letting in some light…perhaps just the light of a simple smile. No clearer did I see this as in the tour group dynamic, where we were navigating new things together that weren’t always in our comfort zones or up to our western expectations. Instead of complaining and wishing for something else, all we could do at times was practice patience, muster a smile and let things be. Keep calm and smile on…

As I sit in the Mumbai airport waiting two more hours (on top of the three I’ve already waited) for a delayed flight to Goa, I can’t truly say that praying to Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Shiva (“the remover of obstacles”) is going to make a difference. So I’ll just smile and wait, trusting I’ll get where I need to be in due course…

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