Overview for The Spirit of India
In the vast and mystic land of India, God is not folded away in a shrine or in a corner. Walk on the streets and one of the most startling observations is the presence of a deity in all facets of life. Little kids dot the traffic signals; scurrying with vessels, out of which the Lord Shani (Personification of the Planet Saturn) tucks out his little head to collect money in exchange for his blessings. The truck ahead of your vehicle has a black shoe hanging behind it and as you overtake him through the madding crowd, you catch a glimpse of a little shrine that has been created on its dashboard. A little further, Kavariya (Religious Pilgrim) walks with two mud pots dangling at both ends of a stick on his shoulder--and Oh, he is walking barefoot in this scorching heat. That looks like a mere stone on a roadside, but a closer look reveals a sort of a figure that has been painted in vermilion. A man dressed in a business suit quickly removes his shoes, folds his hands in reverence and with his middle finger takes some of the vermilion plaint and anoints his forehead. You wonder why--may be a quiet request to God to help him strike a new business deal today. He even offers a rupee in exchange. In western cultures you seldom see signs of worship on the street; rites are for the temple or the home and practiced in spaces set aside for it. India does not believe in such distinctions -- the shaven head and a Sadhu are everywhere. The splash of scarlet Sindura on a wayside stone or shrine signals the approach to sacred space. Folded hands and heads bowed to ask for safe childbirth, happy marriage, salvation, are a common sight. God in India is out of the temples, into homes and everywhere on the streets.
Anupma Gajwani (Author)
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