My oldest recollection of praying goes back to the dark days of my childhood; or rather the dark nights. Don’t get me wrong, it’s just that Jamshedpur in those days would often bear the brunt of constant load shedding. It obviously meant that books could be wrapped up and we kids could go out on the street and play. Mothers would catch up on gossip, life and recipes and fathers (if they came out at all) would pretend to talk sports, politics and business with neighbours. It was the time when heat, sweat and deadly diseases like dengue were unheard of. Come to think of it, we kids actually liked it! It was only when the hours of darkness would wind up endlessly it got troublesome. Dinner times were pushed, bed times would be delayed and parents worried about our school the next day. A times likes these my parents coaxed me to pray. You see, I went to a Convent school and right from the junior class prayer was made to be an integral part of our routine. Excited as I was about “Our Father in Heaven” and “Angels of God” I had just begun to enjoy prayer. I was told it was like a private conversation with God. So on some days when my parents asked me to pray for the lights to come back, I prayed from the bottom of my heart. On some nights I refused. My parents say that I acted ‘pricey’ and was being plain and simple naughty. But maybe I was trying to not sound frivolous to God. I mean, who prays for electricity all the time? Well, let me tell you, the lights always came back. 🙂
I still see prayer as a private conversation with God. I don’t understand why does one have to do grand rituals for it? Why does one have to fear God? Why can’t I look at God as a friend, one who knows me the best? One who throws challenges at me and the one who also helps me deal with them? I look at God as one who punishes me when I am wrong, like the way I know he rewards me. So much so for my relationship with God…so don’t be alarmed when I say that this is how I converse with God:
“Okay, so today all I ask of you is to keep everyone happy. A has an important day coming up, make sure he isn’t disappointed. And V has been getting a cold all too often. It’s tough to give him those antibiotics every time. So, please boost his immunity. I trust you to keep all the elders healthy. See to it that life isn’t a pain to them. ”
Prayer for me is usually a list of instructions to God. Interestingly it’s the same for my mother. She keeps her Thakur Ramkrishna on a shelf inside her cupboard next to my father’s home clothes. My wedding card, my son’s annaprashan card are still before him. Maa says he is still blessing us. I believe her. My grandmother has prayed all her life. Her praying sessions, twice a day run into hours. She has been a fairly religious person and as a child I enjoyed her charade of keeping all things connected to God untouched. But that didn’t last long. So when she began asking me if I was having my periods, I retaliated. “It’s your God who has given me the periods, what do I care about being unclean before him?” I still believe in that.
I got married into a family that has a strong connection with God. My mother-in-law prays, my father-in-law prays everyday before stepping out of the house. But they have never forced me to tow their line when it comes to God. And I live them for that. Maybe they look at me as a non-believer. But I really am not. I have trouble displaying my connection with God. I too had a small nook for God at home, but it was duly put away when the baby arrived. God is still packed at home. I don’t need a God to be there physically before me. For me, he stays in my heart. I don’t need a shelf for my God. But maybe I would like my son to choose it for himself. Every time my land lady blows a conch, he joins his palms and closes his eyes. He of course doesn’t know what it is to pray but he has come to recognize Ganeshji and Maa Durga. So unless these Gods remain to mean festivals of the calendar, I think it is a good idea to see what praying is. He deserves to make a choice for himself and see how he wants to converse with God.
So this Diwali, I hope to pray to Goddess Lakshmi with this ultimate DIY pack . I don’t know if my prayers are as pure as they were when I was a little child. But it’s time my son tests the power of prayer for himself.