Sunday, May 15, 2011

Our Prayer Room

Today I went where I had not been before....into unchartered territory. I am talking about our prayer room.


You may have realized that till now, many posts and pics of my home never included our prayer room. The only reason being that it used to be my FIL's domain, his Sanctum Sanctorum, where he spent many many hours praying for the welfare of his children, grandchildren and all our relatives. He got great satisfaction and peace of mind from doing so. He had his specific routine.....morning and evening were when he worshipped for a long time, but throughout the day he would pop in and out of it for small bursts of prayer. So out of respect for this, I refrained from intruding and trying to take arty shots of this very private room. It was his space...he was in charge of it. Everyday he would take a damp cloth and wipe all surfaces down before beginning his rituals. He spent hours distributing the flowers from the garden among the various Gods. Maybe his favorite Gods got the bigger fragrant flowers?


He bought all the various "puja" or prayer items....vermillion powder and sandal paste, "vibhuti" or sacred ash, incense sticks, cotton wicks, oils, lamps, and assorted other paraphernilia. Over the years he had collected religious posters, framed pictures, idols and statues, prayer beads and "rudrakshas" on the religious pilgrimages he took every year. And each time he came back after these trips, my husband and I would help him hang them up, or nail them to the wall, or place them on a shelf....whichever way and wherever he wanted. This wasn't the time or place for design rules to override deep religious faith!


Right up until his stroke last May, he did this....his frail body bent low over the shrine to clean the platform, his gaunt bony soft fingers separating the cotton wicks, lighting the lamp, adorning the idols with red "kum kum" and sandal paste!


But since last May, this prayer room had been sadly neglected. All he could do after his stroke, was sit on a chair outside and get solace from just seeing the room and the idols in a hazy blur. And after he passed away in February, the room has never been used. I'll be honest...I am not religious. I never went in, my role was just to make sure it got swept and mopped everyday. But over the past few days I have been giving it occasional glances, feeling like I ought to go in and do something...just out of respect for him. He would have liked it. For as long as I knew him, he never compelled me to participate, but was always happy when I did. And so today I did.....!


I picked flowers, I wiped, I cleaned, I polished...and I realized why he found it such a peaceful place. With the curtains drawn behind, you're shut away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world...annoying doorbells, traffic noise, cooking smells, yelling from roadside brawls and so on. Even a complete atheist like me found peace and quiet sitting on the prayer rug surrounded by all the Gods and Goddesses watching me. And so today I promised myself (and him) that I would go in every so often and if not pray, keep it neat and tidy with fresh flowers and incense......! This is the least I can do.


So here, for the first time to share with you all....is our prayer room, my FIL's temple in the house!


The room
Close up of the mandap/dais...pasted with patterns of Rangoli
Brass accessories .....a bell, a lamp, and some silver slippers of a God
 His mortar and pestle...a stone mortar and a sandalwood pestle, which when wet and ground against the stone made sandalwood paste, used to anoint the idols
Cotton wicks and incense burners......
 I was so touched to find he had kept this disfigured mud Ganesha (elephant God).....my first attempt at making something with clay 3 years ago. I remember saying how badly it was made, and he kept saying it was wonderful for a first attempt!
 All the prayer beads he had collected draped over the top of the "mandap"
 A brass "Aum" and flowers
Little knick knacks.....
 His "vibhuti/sacred ash" holder


The shelf my husband put up for him, so he could line up all the smaller idols......
If he's watching from above, I know he'll be happy!

19 comments:

Concrete Jungle said...

That really is a touching glimpse....relegious or not!

Concrete Jungle said...

oops! that should be religious....gave away my side of the fence there!

Richa said...

Hey, this was a very heart-warming story you shared with us. Thanks a lot. Your FIL would be feeling very proud to have you as his DIL.

May he rest in peace.
His prayer room is so beautiful.. everything in it so very nicely put. He would indeed be happily seeing from above that the room is still being taken care of. :)

Journey said...

That was a very thoughtful gesture,up there he must be proud of u.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful.

My3

Shanthi said...

That is wondeful K!. Having seen him in my last trip I could easily picture him in that room. I appreciate that you decided to peep into it for the respect of him. He will sure be very happy.

Sudha said...

beautiful space...so serene and reflecting his immense faith in prayers. thanks for sharing it...this is exactly how my ammaz and ammama's poojai room look...the pics and wonderful write up make me want to click a few pics of our space with my ammama in it...:)

Sarika Chowdhery Sharma said...

I myself is not a very religious person but I always want to have a separate which is a big challenge for a place like Mumbai due to space constraint. I really loved all the brass, incence holders. Every thing is so well displayed.

GB said...

Such a lovely honest post!It looks wonderful, K! sometimes there's solace to be found in just the traditions themselves. Thanks for the pictures!

Shilpa Kamath said...

That'so thoughtful of you!

Patricia Torres said...

Just looking at those images.. makes me feel peaceful.. wow! I think I could spend hours in there.. praying.. and cleaning.. and lighting up those diyas.. *sigh*..

Today.. I'll say a special pray for your FIL as well..

This is a lovely post.. *sigh*... touched!! :-)

Anpu said...

Lovely post...a pretty temple room. There is something destressing and calming when one is cleaning, singing, ...even listening to the shlokas...
time to be one with your inner self and the almighty...

purplehomes said...

Such a touching post. I am sure your FIL is looking down & smiling...Kamini you are such a beautiful person...both inside & outside

rama said...

Beautiful Kamini.

Roshni Mitra Chintalapati said...

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."

I think you just exemplified this sentiment!

Val said...

A beautiful post. I'm sure if there is any kind of afterlife, your FIL will know that you're caring for his prayer room.

Cotton Wicks said...

This is really appreciable. Blogs like this really make me feel proud for the one posting it.

Ambica said...

What a gorgeous puja room. Divine. Though I am not a very religious person, if my house had a puja room, i 'd want it to be like this. especially love the kolam print on the shelves. fabulous

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