“The best form in which to worship God is every form.”
– Nem Karoli Baba
Acclimating to a new environment always takes time but sometimes you just have to jump in so you don’t miss anything. The journey to India sort of turns you around when you think about not just the time to get here but the time difference from home. Arriving at 4:30 in the am is just right for India it seems and you have to think hard about exactly what day it really is. Seeing a driver with “Deb and Parker” written on a white piece of paper was very welcoming as I was not sure just how this was going to work. Somehow you just feel right at home seeing your name in a foreign land. It’s like someone is expecting you. The drive was long and it was a good thing that we left when we did as the towns were waking up along the way just so that we can slide right on by and catch the glimpses of life in India.
It’s good for me and I feel blessed to have ventured to this land in 2009. Here is the thing . . . it is somewhat of a culture shock. I feel very accepting of the way things are and there is not much fear of what is not familiar. Tonight I encountered the Pooja happening. Parker and I were cautiously adventurous tonight and went further along the road than we did during the day. Food was not at the forefront of our minds this day as we were more focused on sleep and getting the lay of the land for the daily walks to the Shala and to get the necessities for registration during the day. The timing was a little late and we just asked if they were serving and sure enough two masala dosas appeared before us. Freshly made and easy to like I knew we would be okay. Just as I am thinking we are the only ones doing this, a group of four Indian people sat next to us and got the same thing. I was comfortable and smiled at the older woman and took in her beautiful color sari and bindi. There is a level of comfort when you know you are not the only one in something so simple as this and how many other things can this relate to when you think of it.
Parker had no desire to take in the Pooja tonight. He had his fill and I can totally understand. I mean cows in the road, dogs roaming everywhere, garbage, noise, 4 people on a scooter, the heaviness of the air, not seeing many other people like us (yet) and a being dropped into another culture so really foreign to many. It was funny as we were getting our photos we needed for registration at the shala, there was a modern Indian woman observing my bangles and my anklet and saying how we westerners want to be more like traditional Indian woman and how the Indian women, the modern ones want to embrace the Western ways. Tradition is important to India and the people and it is rich in many many ways. We spoke of what married women are supposed to wear verses what single women are supposed to wear. I guess she was not being so traditional for lack of bangles, necklaces and the toe rings. She looked very young, had a good sense of humor and had a 3 year old and was helping to run this business.
The Pooja was cool. I ventured there and Parker ventured home. He worried about me and I worried about him but we departed and let each other be. Take you shoes off, cue the line and pay 20 rupees and just observe and slip quietly in. The man who sold us the dosas said it was an auspicious night and I had to think about this. That was good right! It is good. People lining up for the blessings, to take in the singing and prasad. The Indian women smiled at me and said it must be hard for me to stand and wait in line. The Indian men just shoved. It was really cool to see the deity’s adorned with flowers and the garland strung flower decorating the inside of the temple. Then there was the chanting and singing of songs as well as the Brahman Priest at the various alcoves. I got to the room where they were singing on the tail end but recognized Govinda and wanted to sign along too. Everyone is so uplifted and it is beautiful to see these families taking this in together. You could tell this was all from the heart and that the people came alive when they were there and treasured the blessings this night.
I was glad my shoes were just where I left them 🙂