Padmini had this to say on her Facebook page about today. “Today is Vijayadasami–the tenth day after Navaratri–we do puja to all the instruments (ayudham of modern day) and pray that they work well throughout the year. My prayer goes out to Google and Gmail and Facebook of course–to keep myself in the network! God bless the Internet!!”
Today is a holiday when just about every Indian is feasting and visiting friends to exchange greetings on this very auspicious day.
This morning, Bhosale, our man Friday, called Ranjan and me out to join him in his contribution to today’s festivities. He had adorned Ranjan’s car and motorcycle with garlands, spread all auspicious items on the ground before them, and got Ranjan to light joss sticks and camphor to perform Aarathi to both vehicles and break a coconut and sprinkle the water on both vehicles. After this, he broke open one box of pedas (Indian sweets made out of condensed milk) and gave one each to both of us as prasad. (Something akin to sacramental bread, symobolizing food blessed by God.)
Yesterday, I was invited as Chief Guest to be at the puja at a friend’s factory where all his workers performed similar rituals to each machine, transformer, computers, electric meters etc and started the machines after the ceremony to run for a few seconds. About 140 coconuts were broken before such instruments. This was done yesterday as today is the official holiday and the puja was performed before close of the working day.
As I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts, for Hindus everything is God, because for them there is only God. This puja was done to thank God for the contribution those instruments, tools and gadgets made to the workman/user’s well being and to pray to keep the users from harm’s way. The prayers invoke Gods to keep them in good working order and to prevent accidents and to continue supporting the earnings of the users.
Some background information here would help my readers understand my writing this post. Ranjan and I do not perform these pujas. My observation of rituals is restricted to my daily morning meditation and post shower prayers that last about two minutes each day. During the prayers, my prayers essentially seek divine intervention to bless all living beings and to protect the earth from harm.
What is then the need for Bhosale or my friend to get me to participate in their rituals? For Bhosale, it is a matter of faith that Ranjan and I continue to be well so that his interests are taken care of and the two vehicles that he washes and cleans everyday continue to provide him with a livelihood. For my friend, it was necessary to have an elder, who appreciates these rituals, knowledgeable about industry and commerce and who can give his blessings to all the people and the enterprise to continue to flourish.
In my friend’s factory, fifty percent of the employees are Muslims and fifteen christians. This reflects the demographic profile of the neighborhood. All of them participated in the ceremonies and broke the coconuts before the machines that were their individual responsibilities. All of them accepted the prasad and partook in the feast organized jointly by them. All of them wore the red mark on their foreheads to signify that they had participated in the ceremony.
Bhosale’s first name in Yakob, Indian for Jacob. He is a third generation Roman Catholic. His family celebrates Christmas in two homes, their own and in ours. Ours because for near twenty years they have been part of ours.
The point is that this is the India that others do not know about. I have illustrated with two different incidents how culture and traditions override religion.
This is what is being attempted to be destroyed by fundamentalists from the three main religions of India. The Muslim and Christian fundamentalists financed and encouraged by overseas interests and the Hindu by homegrown lunatics.
Magpie11 had this to say on his facebook page -“Chief Sitting Bull said,” Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.” What happened to that idea?”
I responded -“All our Chiefs have instead become shitting bulls.”
Magpie will have his last word -“For the first time ever I will use internetese…LOL!”