Tuesday, February 01, 2005

On prayer and worship

The bus was inching by slowly…the curves were numerous and I sat patiently in the bus waiting…. Kodaikanal was a beautiful place and there was a pleasant air blowing about which ruffled my curls and caressed my cheek. I was happy and sat contentedly in the bus. We stopped for the hundredth time for a cup of tea and I got out of the bus to stretch my legs a bit.
I did not want a cup of tea and after asking the driver how long the bus stopped there, I went for a short walk. The place suited me fine- no pollution and not so many vehicles- I hated the dust that was ever present in the metros where I stayed.
I loved taking photographs and was happily clicking off to glory with my lil camera. It was then that I saw a tree. It was a normal looking one- one which you wouldn’t glance twice at- come on, there were innumerable ones on the way side…. But this one had an additional decoration to the rich leaves and the colorful flowers which adorned all the others trees. It was coated with saffron and turmeric at the lower end and there were some threads tied on it. Curious I walked over to it. There was an old woman who sat near by. Seeing me walk over she smiled at me- I was obviously another tourist who would click anything that was on sight! I went over to her. She must have told this story a thousand times and will probably tell it again to a thousand more travelers who stopped there.
“ It is a mighty sacred tree”, she told me. Any wish one made out there would come true. “Try and see…” but one had to tie a thread dipped in turmeric and saffron and then make a wish. If the gods were pleased with you then your wish would come true. I smiled to myself and walked away.
There were temples and there were temples. There were so many places of worship. There were huge ones and there were little ones. People desperate to believe anything and everything moved over in search of something that they felt was denied. A prayer would solve that out. New temples were built and others destroyed for reasons best left unsaid. It was all the faith that mattered. People who went in for the famous places of worship and spent hours in queue, pushed past throngs of people for a glimpse of the ever elusive “god” were driven by that naughty fellow called ‘Hope’. Well, there had to be something that made life worth looking forward to- so hope be it….
Little did people realize that a little tree on the corner of a road side in a curved lane offered as much hope to people as the huge temples, mosques and churches built elsewhere……..

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