This past Sunday, 12 or so of us met up in Ashland for a tour of the Shri Lakshmi Hindu temple. Arriving early, we walked around the building, admiring the Rangoli, (chalk designs drawn on the pavement.) Traditionally drawn by women for protection and blessings, they are stunning, temporary art.
Once everyone was gathered, we took off our shoes and headed inside. Shri Lakshmi is amazing inside and out, there’s always some ceremony happening, and the depth of devotion to their spirituality can be seen in the architecture, and demeanor of everyone present. It’s not silent like the churches I was brought up visiting on Sunday mornings. It’s alive, there are children laughing, cellphones ringing, bells chiming, many different prayers happening at the same time. This is not to say it’s casual, more like spirituality is not set aside for a certain day, time and ceremony, it is woven into every part of their lives.
We visited with all the deities, Ganesha, Sri Lakshmi, Vishnu, Shiva, Kartikeya, Garuda, and Ayyapa. Sharing stories of the gods, and making our offerings. Everyone adds a bit of knowledge, and our understanding grows.
My friend, and Shiva priest Jagadesh welcomed us, and blessed us wtih Arate, the blessed flame offering from Shiva and Ganesha… filling us with blessings and our hands with Prasad, (fruit that has been blessed.)
We said our goodbyes to the gods for today and headed off the The Dosa Palace for a dinner together. A day of devotion works up the appetite, and our table was soon abundant with delicious South Indian food. Tara and Arron Blessed our dinner with the traditional Sivananda gratefulness mantra, and we found a nice mix of mild to firey flavors. I’ve got some great feedback from you all, and we’ll be sure to gather again for another field trip soon. Keep in touch and I’ll see you in class. -j