Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Puja Flowers

Every morning the puja flower lady delivers small flower garlands or "poomalas" to every Hindu home. Religion for Hindus is truly a DIY - do-it-yourself industry. There are no sermons at Hindu temples, which might appeal to many a Sunday Schooler. No sermons, just prayers and incantations to whatever facet of the Deity you are concerned with. The many gods and goddesses are similar to patron saints in the Catholic tradition - each one has an office. You can pray to St. Jude or to Shiva the Destroyer if you need a quick favor.

Shiva is reputed to be quick to like people, easy to please but very dangerous to piss off. My mother-in-law is convinced that Shiva is protecting my husband because when he was 2 years old a cobra could have gone for him but didn't - cobras belong to Shiva's dominion. And she says that our (my husband and me) horoscopes reveal that our union is similar to the Shiva-Parvathi union, which she says is the ideal relationship. Parvathi set herself on fire (committing suicide) when Shiva accused her of infidelity, and Shiva also beheaded the son she created on her own (since she is the mother goddess she don't need no man). We have yet to experience such bliss in our union as yet.

Back to the puja flowers. At the market one day I saw where all the puja garlands came from. There was a lady with a high table - like a judge's bench - with heaps and heaps of fresh flowers piled on top. Fresh jasmine and rose and honeysuckle. I was smitten by the site of so many pretty fresh flowers and I wanted to just thrust my nose into the piles and breathe deep of their perfumes. I made a move to do just that when i felt my maid pulling me back, and I saw the flower lady rushing to protect her flowers with her arms.

I had forgotten that mere mortals are not supposed to smell the flowers offered to God until God has had a chance to sniff them first. These people were protecting the flower lady's inventory because if I had succeeded, she would not be able to sell the flowers that I had sniffed. They would be deemed unusable for offering to God.


Molly said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now and I really enjoy it.
My boyfriend, also from south India, really enjoys it too. Reminds him of home!

Suja said...

I came upon your blog by chance. Being a tamilian living in USA for last 8 years , your blog is very interesting since i am able to see india through an american's eyes who is just not a visitor.

Keep it up