On Maha Shivaratri, DN came to pick me up. It was still before noon, when I got his call. I went downstairs to meet him. This was the first time I met his cousins – well, two of them anyway. His cousin, the man driving, was very friendly and had soft, kind eyes. His cousin, the girl who sat beside me in the back of the car, seemed very sweet. She was wearing a lovely purple and green Patiala suit. She had long black hair and a super cute smile. 😀 Little did I know, she would be my teacher for the day!
We made our way to the temple, which was crowded with people – normal, considering the holiday. We walked around to find many different temples with many different deities. I was a bit reluctant to take pictures, as I am never sure if it’s acceptable to take pictures in the temples or not. DN reassured me, and even helped me take pictures.The temple – upon first entering the area.
When we approached the first temple, we took off our shoes and went inside. This is the moment I discovered I was wearing the wrong shoes, that day. We entered the temple, I put my camera away and looked to DN. He gestured to his cousin. “She will teach you how to pray.” I looked to her, and she was smiling at me. Without any words, she put her hands together to pray, and closed her eyes. When she finished with her prayer, she touched her forehead with the fingertips of her right hand, and then her heart. I copied her form, as I made my prayer.
We waited in line for no longer than a minute, as people ahead of us received some sort of water. We approached an altar of sorts. I looked to his cousin for guidance. She said another quick prayer and then held out her right hand to receive water. The man behind the altar poured water into her hand. She put her hand to her lips to drink some of the water, and splashed the rest over her head. How curious. 😀 I extended my hand to receive water, and again, copied her. I wondered if there was anything specific I was supposed to be praying for, or if any prayer would do?
When I finished, I followed her, as she walked around the four walls of the tiny room where the figure of the deity rested. She said a short prayer at each side, touched the wall and then touched her forehead. I followed her lead. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see DN smiling behind me. ‘Uh oh’ I thought. ‘Am I doing this wrong? Does it look strange?’ I blushed that insecure blush, finished praying, and followed his cousin back out of the temple. I put my shoes back on, and we made our way to the next temple.
Praying at each temple was very similar to the first experience. In one case, after praying, his cousin reached up and rang a bell. I did the same. In another case, in the temple of Lord Vishnu, we prayed at each of his avatars before praying to him. Each avatar was in a glass casing on the wall. We touched the glass and then our forehead and afterwards, our chest. When we finished, we made a prayer to Lord Vishnu and walked around the deity, again praying at each side. We made one more prayer, before leaving the temple. I didn’t see DN anywhere. We put our shoes on, and he appeared behind us, emerging from the temple with his other cousin, the driver.
On our way back to the car, we passed people sitting on the ground, holding baskets with snakes in them. Apparently touching the snake was good luck. I’m not afraid of snakes, and they looked tame, but I was too worried I’d be wrong. I didn’t touch them, in fact, none of us did. As we turned to leave, DN pointed out a woman sitting on the ground, making garlands. I always wondered how they did that… ♥
By the end of the day, I got the chance to meet DN’s family again! ♥ I had tea and lunch, I got the chance to see tons of pictures of his family, and even got to see the view from his rooftop. 😀 Such a lovely experience – and what an awesome day!