How many types of prayers we offer? Have you ever thought about this? I am not talking about the rituals here but about the time we spend praying. Well, you would realize that it all depends upon your availability and requirement. Don’t you think so? When you have a big problem to be solved then you prefer to go to a larger or famous religious place like the types of “Tirupathi” or “Velanakanni” or “Shirdi” etc. If it’s a little smaller obligation then you end up in any of the famous places within your city and if it’s a routine one…then you prefer the temple or church closest to your house. But no one has so far defined how many times or how many hours should one pray or how you should pray to make it effective so that you are noticed and helped by God. So actually how you pray depend upon what you want and what you can offer in return.
Oh yes, I just remembered there is another distinctive type of prayer, which most of us would have noticed when we travel i.e “prayer on the move”. I remember the days in Chennai, when I used to go to my college in bus. I have noticed people who do a quickie “prayer” from the bus itself when they see any temple or church. Even people who are standing would try their best to bend down and show their face outside. Sometimes the temple will be some three streets behind the shops. In some cases they would have just seen the cross of the church some where far away. In worst cases its just there in their head that there is a temple somewhere here. Sometime they would be reading a novel or a magazine but still when the bus reaches the spot, they pray and believe that God would have seen them pray too.
Why do we do this ? More of a guilty feeling that we ignored him on our way?
It's a good thing to remind God several times (in all possible ways) since he has many people to take care off. I remember the last Sunday mass I attended. Towards the end of the mass, the priest was talking about a foot ball match between our parish and another one from a close by town. He prayed and asked all of us to pray to God so that our parish team won the match. I am sure the parish priest of the other church also prayed the same. Now visualize the situation of God. Sometimes, we end up going to church or temple just for the sake of proving to ourselves (or others) that we are religious and God fearing. Otherwise, why would one sane person go to different places to worship believing it would make a difference in the prayer we offer. How many times you would have visited some famous temple or church to pray but only ended up seeing what other people do and admiring the structures. Even when you come out you only remember the troubles and pain you went through for getting a glimpse of the statue of God.
I had been to the Mount Mary church in Bandra recently. It’s a lovely church with a peaceful surrounding, a very good place to reflect on your life and pray deeply. But it’s also an ancient church and you have people who come there to see the church and its architecture. They still pray for a moment because it’s a church and you can’t go without praying after you enter right? But most of their time they spend in clicking photographs and admiring the interiors. I noticed two college girls who were praying in front of me and then one went straight to the first bench to kneel down again. She kept a very God fearing look on her face, while the other girl walked aside with a camera and clicked her praying. The one who was praying told the other girl to take the shot from the side so that it covered the statue of Mother Mary in the front and also the interiors of the church. I have seen politicians do such things to con people but whom are we fooling by taking such pictures.
The latest cry about banning Namaz in the public is another ridiculous approach. We all know most of the temples in India are built on the roads. These are small structures and there is no room for a second person to go inside other than the Priest. We have noticed several who stand on the road and pray in such temples (lets ignore breaking of coconuts right in the middle of the road for now), do we ban that as well? The way we approach God should not be basis our necessity or based on what the society wants you to do. If you think God is everywhere, then there is no point in going to these so called religious places. If you think God is only in temples or churches, then atleast go inside and pray even if it’s for few minutes. And if you believe God is inside all of us, you don’t have to pray, just believe in yourself. At the same time, prayers are very personal and each one should be allowed to do it their own way. Why even think of restricting something like this ? I recollect what Rajinikanth told in one of the recently held function - “If there is a creation then there will be a creator”. I believe in that creator and if he is the God whom all of us talk about, then I believe in that God. But when it comes to prayers, offerings and rituals, lets add some sense.
P.S - Originally published in bijupeter.blogspot.com and updated in Jan'19.