Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Shiva the Destroyer (Sunday, July 4)

One of the most common observations about India is that spirituality is bound to everyday, ordinary living. Faith is twisted into life in beautiful, devastating, and totally quotidian ways. But we didn’t really get it until we stopped at an evening ceremony at a small temple devoted to Shiva, in Khajuraho.

Twice a day a holy man leads the ceremony, blesses the devotees, who sing and pray, then it’s over and everyone goes on with their day, hustling for tourist dollars, tending to children, sweeping the streets. It takes maybe 15 minutes. It is beautiful and astonishingly abrupt, and as cacophonous, crowded, hot and hectic as anything is in this country.

But there is a moment – just a moment – when the faithful press their cheeks against the temple, the incantations fall into a cacophonous harmony, and you feel the press of the priest’s finger on your third eye, that India almost makes sense. We hope for more moments.

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