I took off my footwear in the car and walked the stony path to the temple carefully. As I stepped into the huge courtyard that the large, ornately carved doors led to, I bent down to touch the threshold with my hand and touched it to my forehead in obeisance. My younger son who was not so used to a temple visit often bent down and did the same. It was a Saturday morning and since the past few weeks, the husband and I had started the ritual of going to the temple.

The sons have school on Saturdays and when they don’t they prefer to sleep in. Today, however, the younger son chose to come with us. Most times, as a family, we hardly spend time doing activities together now that both of them were relatively grown up. We have different tastes and passions and apart from our evening walks and time at the dinner table, we find fewer things that we all do together. So this was a nice change. After bowing our heads in front of all the deities, taking aarti, doing parikrama and chanting the prayers we know, we rounded up our visit with sitting in the temple’s courtyard for some time. It was a beautiful day with soft breeze blowing. Have you noticed how our kids are not very comfortable with folding their feet and sitting while it comes naturally to us? Is it because we did it with more regularity when we were kids? I wonder. Overall, it left us with a smile and a good start to the rest of the day.

I, for one, was never a temple goer. Growing up, no one went to temple, even on birthdays. Mum had a tiny temple at home where she did diya and poojas. But, we were left to discover our own journeys of faith. Being married into a relatively more religious family, I have never been forced to do any ritual, fast or pooja, thankfully. Knowing how independent I am, that would have pushed me away further. But there was one ritual that I initiated after the early passing of my mum, I started visiting a temple on every death anniversary to seek some peace and solace.

Not all temples offer that peaceful vibe though. I hate it when they play blaring music in temples. Why? I like there to be peace or at most very soft strains of music that does not interrupt your thoughts. What I love about temples is the sense of piety, a oneness of devotees, each seeking and discovering something and each united in their devotion to a larger Being. Today, my son asked me if I believed in God. I pondered before answering. I guess so, I said. I believe in a Higher Power. I don’t know what form He or She has but I know that if I put my faith with all my goodwill and positivity, then it comes back to me with more positivity. I don’t know if it made sense to him but this is what I feel. And just like my own family did, I want them to make their own journeys.

I am envious of those who are very sure of their faith and take their children through weekly routines. I, however, am not even regular in doing a basic diya. I do it when I feel like though I love lighting up incense. It has such a calming effect. My relationship with faith has been very limited. I was never a rebel, and I would readily accompany someone or do a pooja at home if an elder suggested. But for me, it should first and foremost make sense. I am happy that I had the freedom to make that choice because just like so many other things, I believe faith is a matter of choice.

Currently, I am enjoying this Saturday morning ritual. If I miss it on odd days, then the sky does not fall. 🙂 But otherwise, I look forward to it.

Tell me do you have a regular routine of prayer or worship? What are your reasons for doing so?

23 Thoughts on “Saturday Morning and a Peaceful Ritual

  1. I don’t really have a ritual. My mom does her puja every day and my dad too but they have left it on us to find our own interpretation of faith just like your family has. I believe in God but for me, it’s not about lighting the Diya or doing puja every day. It’s personal and something that I like to keep to myself. When it comes to temples, I like the smaller ones which offer peace. My favourite is a Shivji’s Temple on the way to Shillong from Guwahati, it’s by the side of a lake and surrounded by forest. My mom and dad had taken me there when I was a baby and it has been my favourite place ever since.

    • I feel similarly, Naba. Faith is very personal. And each one of us did what works for us. I can totally relate to that small temple. Generally I prefer the smaller ones as well.

  2. Just reading the post filled me with such peace. This is the way I’d like to go to a temple – at leisure. I’d like to have the time to do the puja peacefully then sit for a while in the courtyard, rather than rushing through it all.
    I do have a ritual of lighting an incense stick everyday. As I sit down at my desk with the smell of the incense wafting over, it gives me a good feeling. The children, however, don’t have any such ritual. We used to go to the temple pretty regularly when they were younger but now it’s become rare. I always intend to go for birthdays and anniversaries, a ritual followed by my parents, but it doesn’t often happen with the press of activities through the day.
    I dislike loud and crowded temples, the ‘famous’ ones. We once stood in a long queue for Siddhi Vinayak and I felt it completely defeated the purpose. How can you have a conversation with God with the pundit asking you to hurry up and leave?

    • I know! I don’t understand the huge crowds, jostling around and the incredible rush. Perhaps it works for some people but surely not for me. I want my own time.

  3. Faith indeed is a matter of choice. I’m not a religious person at all, but I do believe in a higher power. My husband on the other hand is pretty religious, thanks to his orthodox Brahmin upbringing. My parents were not religious either and temples, pujas were all alien concepts for me for a while.

    My husband has this ritual of going to the Hanuman temple every Saturday too and he does so religiously. I join him as and when I can and he is totally fine with that. He lights the lamps and incense sticks every morning, while I do so in the evening as I reach home before him. It is a part of my daily routine and I do not read much into it.

    I think faith and religion should not be questioned and it definitely is not something worth fighting for.

    • I agree. I am not questioning anyone’s faith or how they practise it. I am just sharing how I am enjoying this new ritual. Maybe, I will continue. Maybe not. But for the time being, it is making me happy.

  4. Same for us too. No fixed routines,no fasting. Thankfully my husbands side has lesser inclination. My sons are atheists I feel.

  5. Husband and I started this practice of visiting a temple once a week after our children were born. Not that we are the religious kinds. But somewhere we discovered an element of calmness that quite stirred in a whole lot of peace within us. Thus we have continued this habit and the two girls accompany us now. Over time, we have realised its a lovely family time. We have chosen a quiet little temple here and we sit there for a while together, sans gadgets just soaking in the environment.

  6. Shailaja Vishwanath on July 10, 2019 at 12:13 pm said:

    My relationship with faith has a very interesting pattern. But at the core of it, I love that I have the Higher Being I can turn to for guidance and peace on a regular basis.

    That’s the best thing about religion and spirituality- we each find our own level of comfort with it. And you know, that’s also the beauty of the Hindu faith- there is no one right way to go about it. I love that flexibility about the religion, although many people don’t understand it that way.

    Your ritual reminds me that I must get back to regular temple visits. We usually end up visiting temples very infrequently these days. Time to change that.

    Lovely that you are making the time for it weekly, Rachna. And as a family, even better.

    • I totally get what you are saying and I agree. Hinduism is so flexible. At least I have always felt that way. I am enjoying this ritual, Shailaja. It is something very joyful and soothing.

  7. I might need to find an answer to “do I believe in god” before my son asks me. It’s very difficult to explain one’s faith, specially when you don’t follow. I love this ritual that you have about visiting temples. I too love temples which are quiet… no blaring music. Just lighting diyas and enjoying it’s peaceful surroundings. You have written so beautifully. Loved reading this post.

    • It’s perfectly fine, Raj. Kids are not judgmental. They just have a bunch of questions. 🙂 Thanks for reading and glad you liked the post.

  8. Your post resonates with me on many counts. The first and foremost is having faith minus the rituals. I grew up in a household where my mother religiously did her daily pujas and had her first meal only after bathing and puja. Temple going was not a thing in my home. It was occasional. I followed my mother and used to do fasting too once a week, sometimes it was 21 Mondays or Fridays. I got married into a staunchly religious family where I, the DIL, was required to follow all of their practices forgoing what I had been doing as per my faith. Giving up didn’t make any sense to me but slowly and gradually I gave up everything what I did and as well as what I was required to do. This brought ridicule and I became a rebel. Now I don’t pray and don’t go to temples. There isn’t a photo of any God in my house. We have a completely non-religious setting at home. D can be heard around saying “I am not religious but I believe in God and goodness,” a thing I taught him to believe and to tell people.

    • I felt really sorry reading this, Anamika. But it reiterates what I’ve known all along. The more you push people to do something, the more it pushes them away from it. Hope that sometime later in life, you discover a sense of peace with your faith. And believing in goodness is a motto everyone should practice. You are absolutely right there.

  9. I loved reading this post, Rachna. I have been wanting to go to a temple for so long now, and after reading your post I don’t want to postpone it anymore. I grew up in a very religious household. We didn’t so many pujas at home, but we always lighted diyas every evening and visited temples quite often. Actually, my extended family is very superstitious too which was very difficult to adjust with. After growing up my religious beliefs and faith in god changed. As in I believe there is a higher power, call it Universe, Love, God, anything. But I don’t believe that that power necessarily exists only in the temple. And I don’t believe in asking for things as prayer. I love going to the temple when it is less crowded and not pooja time. I love that atmosphere when the temple is empty and god is relaxing and I can have a chat with him without the surrounding noises. Hate festival times because of the loud noises. My husband’s family is moderately religious but they are very much into celebrating festivals and they love those loud noises during that time. But no one has ever forced anything on me other than my own family members. Now that I am a grown woman I am not afraid to say out loud that I am not god-fearing, but god-friendly. 🙂

    • Thank you for sharing your story with me. I can quite understand how our ideas about faith can clash and we look at some form of compromise. I love how you say that you love to have a chat with God once the temple is empty. I feel similarly. I never visit a temple on festivals. The noise and chatter really puts me off. I am not God fearing either. What God would thrive on fear, I feel.

  10. Your new Saturday morning ritual sounds so beautiful. This post shows how it is affecting you. So happy for you. 🙂

    I’m not much of a temple goer but I love the smells of incense and camphor. Very soothing!

  11. A journey with the god has a different meaning for each one. The experience that makes the mind peaceful and gives solace in times of need while respecting everyone and their viewpoint is perhaps what I treasure most

  12. VT and I both believe in God but rituals are not our way of life. It wasn’t at each of our homes too so we don’t do anything. But one thing that comes easy to us and more a habit than ritual is to for a second or so, think of God and blessings before leaving home for work or a chore.
    We used to go to a temple on weekends but then stopped. I sometimes light an incense and that makes me feel good. I would love to do an evening dia. Just for that home kinda feeling. 🙂 Once a month we go to Gurudwara for seva and darshan.

Do not leave without commenting. I love a good conversation :).

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