Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Wise & Benevolent Goddess

Did you notice how yesterday was Saraswati Puja? A lot of people didnt. Well, atleast a lot of people here didnt. Festivals tend to just suddenly arrive and depart without much fanfare in college. Its strange.

Especially a festival such as this. I remember schooldays when we used to keep our books in front of an idol of the goddess all day, so that she may bless them and bless us and bless everyone. The trick behind it, of course, was that then we had an excuse for not studying the entire day!

In keeping with the faith of that spirit and 'religious fervor' of past years, I bunked college yesterday. To be very technical about it, I only overslept and missed the entire morning session. I had no such reason to oversleep. Neither was I too tired, nor did I go to bed all that late. It might actually just be becoming a sort of chronic habit now, because I overslept and missed a class today too. But no, it wasnt any of this. Contemptuously brushing aside your unmovable fact and your rational thought, I'll tell you what it was.

It was my subconscious mind that did it. It was a subconscious, intentional attempt by my considerate mind to revive those past days and childhood joys, refusing to attend class and take notes on the day of the Goddess of Knowledge. It was a call for faith and piety and lots of it. Thats why I didnt get off my bed when I woke suddenly at 7 in the morning. Thats why the previous night I set my alarm, but forgot to take my phone off silent mode. Thats why I woke up at 10:30 and didnt bother to try rushing to class. And as final proof that it was meant to be, thats why we had only one class in the morning session while the rest were (miraculously?) cancelled.

I believe thats what it was, and so I observed the puja by visiting the shamiana that had been set up near the temple, to house the idol. To be entirely honest, I was having second thoughts about going in , at one point. I had reached the outside of it, and was wondering if I should enter. You know, those silly doubts one gets once in a while. But things have a way of falling into place and showing you the way, when they're falling into place and showing you the way.

As I debated within my head, I looked around me in my hesitation. I must have been looking for a show of faith or a cause to override the cynicism that grows unwanted within us. And I saw a devotee come out of the shamiyana, and observing him, had a moment of crystal clarity in my mind. He looked happy. His face was lit by a joyous smile. I could only wonder what caused this joy. What wiped away the worries perenially plaguing every college student? What cleaned off that grime of cynicism and sarcasm that perpetually turned smiles to frowns? What joy was it that gave him this moment of clean, pure exultation in his being? What source of happiness gave him such contentment, if only momentary, for the state of all things around him?

I wondered. I looked into myself, to find a reason. I looked into him, to find that cause. And then I knew my mistake. For I had looked too deep, I had missed the obvious. So it is with all of life, and so it was with me. I looked at him, a lot more carefully this time. And I saw the packet of sweets he carried in his hand, and which was being distributed free of cost inside. And I knew what joy it was.

I cast off all the doubt. I cast off all the hesitation. With single-minded devotion and dedication in my heart, I took off my floaters and entered. I came out, munching and scrunching, the same light in my eyes and the same joy in my heart. Yes, Indian festivals are blessed indeed. Whatever your motivation, whatever your reasons, they can bring in each of us that same feeling of joy and faith and belief in a power above. That showers light and blessings and occasional sweets.

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