Tuesday, February 10, 2009

thank you for filling the "tirtha" to the brim

One of the things which has always caused me pain while going to temple has been getting Holy Water, or the tirtha from the priest. While most Hindu temples have a different setup, the general premise is the same, there is one main alter/God and every 15-20 priest gives a new batch of worshippers an offering of sweets or fruits.

Since you can't really say no to getting food that had been offered to God, these little offerings of raisins, pears, and sometimes bananas typically constitute the extent of fruits and vegetable consumption in my diet.

The real issue is that while these offerings are being distributed one of the priests comes around and puts a spoon full of holy water, the tirtha, and gives it to people in their cupped hands. This usually happens after another priest puts a crown/hat thingy on your head for a few brief seconds (if you're not Hindu, I'm not gonna bother trying to explain this one).

Now if you've ever tried to drink water from your cupped hands you know that well, your hands aren't exactly water tight. Things drip. Religious miracles aside, this also happens with Holy Water too. Who would've thunk! Add to this the problem that usually there's a bunch of Indian people around you who are jostling for space as if they're trying to post up in the paint in basketball. It's a more civil affair in temples in the US versus India, but there's always an element of boxing out. Usually there's some little turd kid in front of your who hits you in the side and you have to sorta bend over them while graciously taking your Holy Water.

It's all quite spiritual. But I digress.

The problem is that you take a tough task (lack of making non-water tight hands, drip-proof) and add an element of confusion (turd kids, other Indians) and you usually get some leakage. Now goal is to drink the water as quick as possible and maybe put some on your head for additional blessings. Now while I may write in a semi-sarcastic tone, I do believe there is good in all this. What is not good is that the priests I witness all this and they turn the heat up by one notch: they overfill each hand with toooo much water. This almost ensure that a mess occurs....to their delight (or so my conspiracy theory would surmise).

Allow me to explain via analogy. Have you ever had to be the person making the beer run at a stadium and the beer guy fills up your glasses with two much beer. So much beer that the foam gushed on your hands. On one hand you're not gonna tell them to under-fill your glass, on the other hand common sense would lead one to believe that it's okay to leave a little bit of space on your glass. Tirtha is the same way.

I'm not saying beer is holy water, it's just an analogy remember, although it is a liquid with spirit. Likewise the priest could just give you a little less water it you wouldn't end up spilling it everywhere. And as I alluded to, it's not like you can tell him "please give me less blessings, thaaaanks." So you end up dropping a little on someone else, some all over yourself, and some on the floor...

...which you end up stepping in and soaking you sock.

Now I don't wanna be too critical here, but if the priest would just control their dosage of Holy Water this whole mess could be avoided. Please listen priests, for the love of God. Literally.


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