761 – What we learnt as children in a Hindu home

It was unspoken. We knew that God would bless us. Since most of us asked for help to get us out of trouble. It depended on whom one asked. Favorites were Ganesha, Hanuman, Durga, and Saraswati. There were certain simple rituals practiced at home. They were not in your face but they were there. The lamp, and the incense made one aware of the light and the fragrance. And if on the way to school one passed a shrine, one closed one’s eyes for a moment.

  1. A lamp was lit. It could be in the kitchen or in the prayer room or altar which could be in any room. What was interesting was that we went into the kitchen barefoot. The dog could not come into the kitchen. The cat being a dictator was not reprimanded even by my grandma, when she sat on her puja mat. The cat would sometimes leave an offering for her. The lamp was lit with either mustard oil, sesame oil or ghee. It depended on where one lived. Ghee is used by the wealthy but I have used sesame oil always as it brings peace. Mustard oil also does the same. The lamp clears the darkness and makes the air auspicious. Lamps are also lit at dusk.

    When it is not possible to light a lamp in a shop or a hazardous space, then when the bulb was switched on in the morning, one would join one’s hands in prayer. When I was growing up, we had help coming from the village. They had no electricity and they were the first to join their hands and close their eyes when the light was switched on. They would even say a mantra.
    There is a specific mantra when the lamp is lit. I am giving the translation.

    O auspicious lamp! Giver of health, wealth, welfare and virtues—I bow down to you for destroying my inner enemies. Please observe the emphasis is always on inner enemies, our thoughts.

  2. Incense was lit, in front of the lamp. The fragrance was to bring one’s awareness to keep one’s thoughts fragrant.
  3. The Bindi identifies one as a Hindu. Why was this so? The dot is the abode of Shiva-Shakti, Vishnu-Lakshmi-Shakti. It is believed that the Bindi activates the Ajna chakra and its application is helpful for spiritual health. My mother always wore a Bindi. Many children would wear a Bindi and come to school. Now it is a fashion statement.
  4. The Lotus flower is a sacred symbol as it is untainted by dirt and its leaf is always clean. It is regarded as a perfect symbol of detachment. As children we always loved looking at it. Then of course all the Gods are holding the Lotus flower in their hands and are seated on it.

This is what is means to be a Hindu, light a lamp, cleanse your mind of negativity, let the fragrance fill you, wearing the Bindi, creates an awareness of your connection with God and attempt to be like the Lotus flower.

How do children respond to this?

It is wonderful to go through the process. One lights the lamp and the incense stick. One joins one’s hands in prayer. Then if wants one applies the Bindi. Then off to school, sometimes the other children would laugh at the Bindi, in the beginning and then it would end. My sisters and I never wore one in school. It was not insisted upon in homes.

My dear ones I am sharing with you a Hindu way of life, where there is one refrain which is remove negativity, not to hurt anyone and to be kind.

Aim Hrim Klim

Photo by Aravind Kumar on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *