Today I woke up at 5 o’clock and I went to take a shower and finally to wash my hair because for the last 4 days with all the work in the center with the kids I did not have any time. I was in the shower, from head to toe in shampoo, and suddenly the water just stopped. I was horrified and the morning was very cold. All the people in the guesthouse were sleeping and even if I wanted to I could not wake them up because I was half-naked and all in shampoo. In India it is inappropriate even while being inside the house to show your arms or half legs especially when there are other members or you are not dressed in the traditional clothes called “sari”. It is accepted as too much sexual act, so can you imagine if you are only with your towel on? Therefore, I waited 1 hour just freezing when finally I figured out that there was a tank for water in the house and you need to push one button to recharge water. It was a little bit inconvenient facing it for the first time but after all it is better for the nature and it’s saving the recourses.
It was Saturday and I didn’t have lessons with the kids so when I was finally done with my hair we went to visit a temple near Udaipur. It was really an incredible experience. There was a morning prayer, which started at 10:30 and continued until 13:30. It has been raining a little bit but when I once entered, it had stopped. Outside the big gates there were some old women sitting on the floor, making some decorations of fruits, mainly coconut and flowers, which they sell to the local people and the tourists. It is interesting that coconut symbolizes selfless service. The marks on the coconut are even thought to be representing the three-eyed Lord Shiva and therefore it is considered a mean to fulfill our desires.
When the coconut broke it become a symbol of the broken ego. The juice within, representing the inner tendencies (vaasanas) is offered along with the white kernel – the mind, to the Lord. These decorations are used in the temple; you put it as a present for the Gods. Do you know that when you enter a temple in India you have to remove your shoes and leave them at the entrance? They do this because it is a symbol of respect and when you enter, you need to be clean and ready for a Prayer and your shoes are something that is considered as very dirty. The temple was not near – there was a big area with many little structures and gardens so I had to walk barefoot trough it, until I reached the main building. The road was wet but it actually felt nice walking without shoes and listening to the songs they were playing inside. I was amazed how many people were visiting, it was possible for me to hear speech from many different countries and I could see that everyone were very enthusiastic about the Morning Prayer. Many people were carrying the same flowers I told you about and were leaving them in front of the statue of Lord Shiva.
. Lord Shiva, one of the most complex gods of India, embodies seemingly contradictory qualities – He is the destroyer and the restorer; the great ascetic as well as the symbol of sensuality; the benevolent herdsman of souls and also the wrathful avenger. Images of Lord Shiva have various symbols representing the powers and qualities of the deity.
I also knelt down and followed the ritual of eating the little piece of coconut, which is considered as a Gods’ food. Then I sat in lotto next to a woman in the temple (which was opened from every side) and while listening to the wonderful music from the psalms (Psalter, musical instrument like the harp) is one of the books of the Old Testament of the Bible.) I started clearing my mind of everything bad that was frustrating me. I thought only about positive things and it was like magic and among all people, talking and singing, among the beautiful music and all the flowers I felt really strong, independent, and capable to do everything I wanted in my life! It was such a beautiful feeling that I would never be able to forget about.
I knew that part of me belongs to India, belongs to these rituals, and belongs to the sweet music in the air. Even if I try, I will find it hard to describe you this feeling that I felt while walking barefoot in the temple, seeing all the smiling people with shining eyes that were surrounding me and maybe even harder to explain this spiritual power, this energy that helped me get over my problems and subconscious issues.
Nevertheless, there is one thing that I can tell you for sure and that is what happened while I was sitting on the ground in front of the temple.
Before going to India for volunteering, everybody was against my idea. My close family members and friends told me that it is too far and dangerous, our cultural difference is too big and this will create many problems. Some friends told me that it is pointless because there is too much poverty and misery in the World and I cannot do anything about it, because I am just one person “fighting with the windmills”, just one for too many.
But at this moment, when I was sitting on the ground I told you that next to me there was that old woman that was also praying. I noticed that she was extremely skinny and feeble and her face was so bony that as if it consisted only by her huge peaceful eyes. I got very curious about her, because I felt she had so flawless energy around her so I decided to ask her at least if she is local. I was surprised because she knew English enough well to respond me, and she told me that she lives far, but some of her relatives live in the town nearby, so she came to the temple for the Morning Prayer before she visit them. Then she said that she was walking 2 days from her village and she has not eaten almost anything apart of the little “holly coconut” that morning in the temple. I didn’t respond, just stood up and walked all the way until the entrance where was S. (the leader of the organization I was teaching for) because my bag was at him. Before I left the guest house that morning, I put an apple in my bag, just in case I got hungry before lunchtime. I grabbed the apple and went again in front of the temple where the old woman was still sitting and praying and gave it to her. I saw how surprised and grateful she was about the unexpected gift. Before taking the apple, she kissed my hand and thanked me. I knew that an apple would not feed her but at least it would’ve appease temporally her hunger that I was sure she was feeling at this moment, until she reaches her relatives. She was happy and asked me again to sit next to her so we could pray together for me. She was so kind.
The reason why I told you this story is because, as I said, many people even my family didn’t see the reason why I went in India to do a voluntary work – for them it was pointless and I was just one person that cannot make any difference. Nevertheless, for the old woman that came far away for the Prayer and was starving for 2 days, I made a difference. Because every gesture of kindness, no matter how small it is, counts for somebody in this World and it may seem something very simple but for this “somebody” at this very moment, it could mean the whole World. This experience inspired me to persuade my cause, to continue what I have started and to try even harder to make the World a better place.
Today a year and a half later I know: my journey to India was neither a mistake nor a waste of time. I know I am not alone and it was not pointless. I know that I am not the only one fighting for a difference. And I know, you my readers will be able to do the same. You will be able to open your heart and make the first step.
Not for me.
Not for you.
But for that “somebody”, in that “rainy Prayer Day”, when an apple will mean the whole World. So keep reading and keep Feeding Your Humanity! Keep making a difference.
For a better tomorrow!