Wednesday, June 4, 2008

India Here I Come!

So, this is the very beginning of the accounts, tales, thoughts, meanderings, and otherwise rants of what is surely to become the trip of a lifetime!

I would like to give a disclaimer to anyone reading this (especially those people like Mr. Daughhetee who would invariably know more than me on any given historical topic no matter how long I study it) that I by no means am an expert on India, Hinduism, or anything really. I am merely an excited student who is using this vast and fun internet spot to jot my thoughts. So, I apologize beforehand if my excitement causes me to post incorrect information or if it at any way offends anybody. Not my intentions at all. Ok, phew, now I'm off the hook. As I was saying...

I am leaving for India in a little under a month and to be more exact, 3 weeks, 4 days, and some change (meaning hours, minutes and seconds). I feel that already this summer has been very auspicious for me and that India is in a way tugging at my blouse to get me to hurry up and get there. We went to the Hindu temple in Pelham a couple of weeks ago and saw the priest give offerings of honey, milk, perfumed water, etc. to the murti (or icon of the manifestation of God). This particular temple was a Vaishnavite temple (meaning it was mainly dedicated to the manifestion of the Divine known by his devotees as Vishnu).

I would like to quickly pause to say that the reason I am referring to and will continue to refer to the different Hindu deities as manifestations of "the God" or of "the Divine" is because I follow along with the belief that Hinduism is not polytheistic; and is instead a monotheistic spiritual practice that has different manifestations, or personalities if you will, of the ultimate God, Creator,Divine that take on different forms. These different forms are thus the plethora of Hindu gods and goddesses represented in Hinduism (Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Ganesha, Hanuman, etc...). I feel that these different manifestations of the Divine exist simply as a way to make the multi layered and quite complex God more accessible and relatable to the devotee during puja (worship) and prayer.

To make a long story short, the ritual we saw at the temple was beautiful. Afterwards, we had a short lesson in the language of Hindi. It was more difficult than other languages I have tried to tackle. For starters, there are sounds that we don't even make in English.

Other noteworthy auspicious Indian happenings:
-Went to a friend's Hindu wedding on 5/31...Kanthi and David looked great! The wedding even had an "auspicious" time of 10:20 a.m. that the rituals began!

-Met with a woman at the BMA (Birmingham Museum of Art) about making a culture case on India for the museum.

-Going to see an Indian dance on Friday 6/6 by a woman who is from Chennai (our arrival port) and will be performing a 2,000 year old traditional Indian dance that was on the verge of extinction at one point.

Ok, well keep your eyes peeled. I will blog more later.


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