Do the Gods know our religion?
I remember my visit to Koneswaran Kovil in Trincomalee. I went in with my friend who got an offering for the pooja and she asked me also to join in and give it, which I readily did. This was my first venture to give a pooja since I visited Katharagama as a tot. It felt nice. There were flowers and the square of kapuru to be ignited. Fire to give light, warmth and destroy that which is not required. There was a lot of incense and a lot of vows tied onto the branches and the railing around the kovil. Symbols of faith. Of hope. Of a belief in something greater than oneself. It was a meaningful place. It held the power that things could be if only one believed. I wished I had that kind of faith. The ones that allow a tied white cloth or wooden cot to dictate the future of a life on this earth. Belief that if one has enough faith that one can move mountains. I had a little bit of faith. Enough to keep me sane in a world of constant turmoil and roiling change, often brought upon by others but which constantly tossed me on oceans of unrest, like the sea spray beating up the walls of the edge of the kovil. Now railed in to prevent more of those who lost some of that faith and believed life better out of this world.
It can’t be easy to put yourself there but it can offer temporary relief. Temporary coz your soul would live on with that guilt. And wandering souls of the universe would someday return in perhaps one form or another. I for one have started believing in continuity. If a soul lives on, then it only makes sense that it would return at some point. Perhaps to alter the path it once could not. Perhaps to pay penance for a lifetime it didn’t. Perhaps to give hope again to a life that was hopeless. Perhaps.
The pooja was one of many offered that day and would be continued to be offered. But it felt nice to partake in something that gave meaning and depth. And goodness and good intention can never be tarnished by that which is falsely professed. No matter how small the offering. The intent would be no less powerful. The many statues misted over by the smoke, the chanting and the horn. Loud but distinct and heralding. It was a bustling affair and once we offered our own offering for the pooja, we took a moment to pray. To request for that which burned our hearts and souls. I never knew what my friend offered and she never knew mine but we both did it with fervor and it made sense. After that moment of silence and willful wishing, we both moved out into the outer area and joined our two other friends.
They preferred to stay outside and observe the goings on while we just took a chance. On a whim. Of offering in a place unknown to the myriad gods of the universe that we had faith in their plan for us. That as mere mortals we believed. If only for that moment that the gods were listening. That the forces of the universe who created and made all would once again curry upon us their great favour coz our intent was good. And surely the gods would understand that goodness came from a genuine place?
Image credit – By Shamli071 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18103957