Diwali has always been the most special occasion in my family. Being a part of joint family has its advantages; especially during festivals. I get to sample a variety of dishes, cooked by my aunts and light up ten different crackers simultaneously. The uncles stuff our mouths with sweets even as my brothers help me out with the rangoli. But our last Diwali was devoid of joy.
All of us were ready, dressed in our finest as we waited for the pandit to turned up. After about 30 minutes, my uncle tried to dial his number, which was busy. When we finally got across, he informed us that he had found somebody else who was willing to give him more dakshina and he just cut the phone.
We all tried to cheer up my Grandmom and performed the pooja ourselves in the best way we could, but it wasn’t enough. Even though she smiled and tried to look cheerful, you could see that it was not the same for her.
Next day, I decided to look up on the internet for shlokas and their meaning so that I didn’t have to be dependent on a so called holy man.That is when, I came across Sampoorna Lakshmi Pooja Pack on Google search. I clicked on this link, www.PurePrayer.com and read about the entire concept. I was elated; this would be a perfect present for my Grandmom.
It’s been a year since that incident and this Diwali, I am going to ensure that my grandmom’s smile really reaches her eye. I am going to gift her the Sampoorna Lakshmi Pooja Pack.
This Diwali, we will not be mere audiences to the puja,we will become active participants. We will actually understand the meaning of the ancient shlokas as we chant them and celebrate Diwali.
And since we are talking about prayers and Puja, I wanted to share with you what praying means to me by telling you a little story from my childhood.
“Now join your hands and close your eyes”, my teacher would say before our entire class began our morning prayer. It was the first day of school and I was in LKG. I could barely understand the words that my teacher was saying, but I felt strangely peaceful. I did not feel the urge to open my eyes, even a little bit, till the prayer session got over. This session was repeated two more times, once before the recess and one when we were about to get into the bus to return home.
I was strangely quiet as I ran to my Mom. She took me into her arms and asked me how my first day was. That’s when I asked her what a prayer was. She looked into my eyes and explained, “Prayer is a way to talk to God. You can tell him how your day went, what made you happy or what made you sad. You can tell him what you are grateful for and sometimes, only sometimes, asking little favours.”
“But what if I don’t have anything to share. Like in the morning?” I asked mom.
“Then you can just say a hello to him”
“How frequently do we have to pray to God mom?”
“As many times as you like dear”, she said as we sat down on the bus.
Throughout the journey I questioned her about the different aspects of praying and slept off somewhere in the middle of the journey.
I had a strange experience while praying; I went to a Christian school where I was taught ‘Hail Mary’, whereas at home, we performed an arti every evening at 7 followed by a Sikh prayer.
Many a time, I would be confused as to which prayer I should use and would create my own little mixture. I took praying seriously. I would sometimes write down things I wanted to share with God, scared that I would forget.
As I became a surly teenager from the cute young girl I was, I gave up on praying. I didn’t have time for it and it was so ‘uncool’; unless there were exams of course.
Then one summer, my grandmother took me to visit the Golden Temple. I sulked throughout the journey; I didn’t want to go to a temple, when I could have gone to summer camp in Mumbai. But that place completely changed me.
The first time I entered the inner sanctum, I could feel a sense of calm enveloping me. I was a sudden flashback of my classroom; I was sitting in the school, hands joined and earnestly talking to God. Why had I stopped?
I closed my eyes and talked to God first time in years. It was a little awkward at first but it got easy after a while.
I don’t need a reason to pray; I just pray to say a hello to God.