Prayer meets

Our neighbor is holding a prayer meet. There are fresh flower garlands over their front door, inside their house, on windows- golden and yellow marigolds. Their doors have been open all day with the preparations. It is the God Krishna’s birthday in a few days and they are having an evening in celebration. She has invited us over and said, “Only women please. We do not have space for too many people so only women are invited to this.” I promised to drop by if I could.

I can hear the singer on a mike singing songs in praise of the God. He is loud and for a moment I have a surreal sensation of floating in space between worlds, between times. I am sitting at the computer in my house working on my writing projects. The girls are doing their homework and squabbling. The evening sun has set and the sky is grey and dull. I am tired suddenly. Of religion. That would be ok.Of faith? I hope not.

Prayer meets are held all over India all the time; from birth to death, life is punctuated by these events, by singing, by chanting, by prayers, by flowers, mantras, anointments, invocations. Dressed in white or dressed in finery depending on the occasion. I have sometimes enjoyed the devotion. I have sometimes swayed to the beauty of a voice. This evening though I am listless. I am listening to the music, to the flute, the drums, the voice and I am thinking I am stuck between worlds, stuck between spheres of myself, stuck between my own imaginations, stuck between the cultures I have inhabited, stuck between skepticism and a wish to believe.

I drop by and stand for a while at the back of the room. The host takes pictures on her iPhone of the deities, ostensibly to send to her sons who live abroad. It is still that sort of a “moment”. Saints, singing, drums, flutes, singers, incense sticks, lamps and an iPhone. Stuck.

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