The dawn was still an idea when the pudja started. The Hindu ceremony is a requirement for any business opening a new office. The desire to have the representative owner of the house pay homage to the gods is emotionally, physically, and spiritual critical to the large majority of those who are going to work there. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to see the number present at 5:15 am when the first fire was lit and how virtually everyone was there by the time the ceremony was climaxing almost an hour and a half later. After this part the ribbon cutting and lighting of a sacred candle was casual and routine!
The scene that will stick with me came in the closing moment of the early morning ritual. The fire was carried by the priest so that everyone could hold their hands briefly over the flame and then raise the hands to cover some part of their head. As I watched the process I was struck by the intensity, intensely personal, and for a moment the person and the priest were the only ones present nature of each motion. The contrast to the ritual of traditional prayer was startling.
Nowhere in the room did I find the impatient rustling when a prayer runs long. My eyes searched without success for someone who was not fully engaged in the process unfolding before all of us. My eyes listened forlornly for conversations of any kind. Everyone was present, of all faiths and beliefs.
“God can’t stand pious poses, but he delights in genuine prayers.” (Proverbs 15.8)
Today we can sit with the Divine. God is open to our conversation and, at the same time, is interested in sharing what is on Her heart. I have never found God worried or even interested in the way that we pose or prance before the metaphorical throne. I do find a God that wants to know everything, the good, bad, and the hidden garbage. When these gifts, God can give us what He most values; love, mercy, acceptance, purpose, and friendship.