The Laughing Buddha Etc,.

When I had written about my favourite chair, there were many requests for a full photograph of the painting behind the chair, an Ajanta copy on egg tempera painted by Urmeela. It is a scene of Buddha as a child with his mother, a very popular scene copied by many artists here.

The painted copy is reproduced here:

There is another heavy weight mascot that has traveled with us all over the subcontinent since 1975. Urmeela brought it into our home in Kerala where we were posted at that time. That is, this statuette:

He is supposed to be Kubera, the Lord of wealth.

Conrad had mentioned that he has got a mascot too in the form of a laughing Buddha. So do we. He was brought in by our then daughter in law Leena in 2001. He continues to laugh and here he is:

So, we have here,

1. Buddha depicted here as the child symbolizing his enlightenment. En Lightenment meaning in this context, dropping off all superimposed values, ideas, knowledge etc and reverting to the state of mind that is pure. For Ranjan and me, this is Urmeela’s gift to remind us to be like that.
2. Lord Kubera, who blesses us with wealth and all good things in life. In this context, he also is responsible for health, progeny etc which are all considered to be wealth in our system, and
3. Laughing Buddha, symbolizing laughter, joy and happiness.

Yes, we are blessed.

I Am Truly Blessed.

Today is Dussera. It is an important festival, celebrated throughout India. The festival is the culmination of ten days of fasting, praying and fellowship. It symbolizes the victory of Good over Evil.

In our home, we are not religious and apart from my one daily ritual of a post shower short prayer and meditation, there are no other practices followed. My wife, my son and I, all three however are spiritual.

We moved into the present home in which we live in 1990. It has been 18 years that we have lived here. From the very beginning, we had a handyman/gardener who has been looking after our little garden, washing all the vehicles at home, and carry out all other odd jobs at need. He only comes part time, but has been part of our lives since the beginning. His wife also used to come to work as a housemaid till they lived close by. A few years ago, they built their own little cottage about five kilometers away from here, and since then, she has stopped coming. Their two sons used to spend a lot of time with us when they were little lads. Now both have grown up and work at full time jobs. All three keep dropping in whenever possible. Yakob, (For Jacob) comes every day as he also holds a caretaker’s job in a nearby school.

They are second generation Roman Catholic Christians. All of them however have Indian names and their surname is a common enough Hindu name.

Every year, without fail, Yakob, will come the evening before Dussera and wash and clean up all the vehicles at home. Currently, there are only two, one car and a motor cycle, but till a couple of years ago, there used to be three cars, a scooter and a motorcycle. On the following day, as is the Indian custom, he performs a ritual to request the Gods to keep the vehicles in good working order and without causing harm to their users. This ritual is common throughout the country and all machines, tools and implements are given this special treatment.

For Yakob, they generate income. Despite being something that his church frowns upon, he insists on doing this and this morning too, he did it. In his opinion, that I as the head of the household, and being a Hindu, do not perform this ritual is not acceptable. He has therefore taken it on himself to do so, once a year. I simply indulge him.

That is not all. Every Christmas, one huge hamper of all goodies made in their home is brought over for us to share among our friends and family members too.

We have a lady, Mangal who works with us for six hours a day, seven days a week. She too has been with us for many years and is part of the family for all practical purposes. She is a Hindu and observes all religious rituals and rites without fail. Normally, on days like this, important festivals, we do not expect our help to come to work. But come she did this morning and made a local specialty dish that is made on this particular day, so that the three of us could have it too. She too disapproves our casual approach to our religion and has taken upon herself to bring about some holiness in our lives! I indulge her too!

I suspect that this is God’s way of sending us the message that we cannot escape what tradition has imposed on us! I am truly blessed.

Am I indulging them, or are they indulging me?