Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why do I pray?

My morning, when it starts, starts with three prayers I say. Two of them praising lord Ganesh and one of them for Godess Vijayadurga. Why these 2 Gods specifically? Well the truth is these are the only prayers I remember from my childhood.
Prayers are my way of saying 'aal izz well' to my heart. :-). I relate all the three prayers to the safety cucoons I have enjoyed till date. When I close my eyes and say each of these prayers, there is a distinct image associated with each one of them.
The first one is Ganapati Stotra, probably one of the first proper prayer my parents taught me.

Pranamya Shirasa Devam ( Vishwa Vinayak) With Meaning
This is a natural progression after your child has learnt the nursery rhymes of prayers. We stayed in a small rented house then, and we did not have a separate prayer room there. There was a small wooden Mandir  hung on a wall just above the dinig table. I would sit on the table and say this prayer along with other prayers . A prominant image related to this stotra is that of a small cute Ganapati Idol that still exists at our place in Goa. When I say this prayer and close my eyes, it reminds me of my parents and my childhood. It kind of stands for all that they have taught me.
The second prayer I say is the Ganapati Atharvashirsha  (yes, Ganapati is the faourite one here).

Ganapati AtharvaSheersha
Every Ganesh Chaturthi (Ganapati Bappa ka b'day), we gather at my native place and do multiple iterations of this stotra. This prayer reminds me of my grandparents and all the relatives I meet at my ancestral house. It feels good that there are some people back there who still enquire about you and are genuinely concerned about you. When I close my eyes and say this prayer, I am reminded of the morning we do this iteration exercise, me, my uncles, cousins and almost 3 to 4 generations of Desai family, bathed, with chandan on our foreheads, the smell of Agarbattis, as the rhythemic chant of this stotra reverberates.
The third prayer is that of Shri Vijayadurga. This prayer reminds me of my mother's home town, situated at Keri. Having lived very near to this place, I have fond memories of my childhood days spent here as well. This stotra reminds me of my maternal relatives especially my grandmother. When I visted her during holidays, at dusk, she would line up all the kids in the house (it was a joint family) and take us to the Vijayadurga temple next to the house. We would sit there and recite this stotra under her guidence. Even today when I say this prayer, I smell camphor and remember the fondness I enjoyed at my mama's place.
Saying these three prayers every morning is a brief mental trip into my childhood. It makes me fresh and I remind myself that there are people out there who will keep loving me irrespective of what happens through the day to me today!

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