Monday, June 20, 2011

Experiencing Puja

Two weeks have passed since we moved into our new home. Although we love the house, there was a lot to fix, and I especially always felt a somewhat unsettled "ki" in this house. So, when my hubby suggested a ceremony of Puja, I agreed immediately.

Puja is a religious ritual of Hindus. Okay, we are not Hindus, but the religion here seems to be more accepting towards someone like me, who does not believe in a particular god. The priest who came to do the ceremony even told us that all gods merge into one, just like all water from many places merge into the sea. I like the concept.

So, this past Sunday, we did it. We got up fairly early and cleaned the house, but it was my hubby's colleague and his wife who really organized everything. They got us a statue of Ganesh, a little platform on which to place Ganesh, and a set of containers that included powders (Turmeric and Sindoor) and rice (colored with Turmeric and Sindoor) used for decoration. They even brought some flowers to decorate the door frames, etc. It was just amazing to see how quickly they made our house Puja-ready.

The priest arrived, quickly took off his shirt (in our living room!) and wrapped a red linen around himself, and boom he was ready for the ceremony.

He sat down and started to prepare the stage for the Puja. He placed a red cloth, poured a whole bunch of rice onto it, placed a golden vase on top of it, then started to place 9 pouches of grains which represent the nine planets around the vase (on the rice), and finally on top of the golden vase, a hairy coconut was placed. The coconut and vase became as if they were together. The priest decorated them with flowers upon flowers and surrounded them with a nice looking piece of white linen. And there it is, a wonderfully gorgeous tribute (to Ganesh?)!

We gathered around the altar, and the priest started the ceremony. Unlike the familiar Japanese Buddhist priests that I have known, his chanting sounded more cheerful and upbeat. He kept offering the rice and flowers to the coconut statue (by lightly throwing them) while he chanted, and so did we.

The ceremony finished successfully with the interpretation by my hubby's colleague and his wife (thank you!!). The priest drew an "OM" sign above our entrance door (which looked like it had a smiley at the top), and we all went downstairs with another hairy coconut to complete our ceremony.

My hubby's colleague lit the solid camphor fuel placed on top of the coconut. Yes, the poor coconut was on fire! Then, BANG!  He smashed the coconut really hard on the ground. They told us that would get rid of all the bad karma. They also told us they do this ritual before they go on a long trip.

Guess how I felt afterwards?  WONDERFUL!
And, thank you to my hubby's colleague and his family to be there with us. It was such a great experience that you gave us!

# Although I have already posted the entry about this topic in my Japanese blog (well the content is a bit different), I wanted to share this great experience in English as well. Sorry for the duplicate!

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