I wait for the noise to subside before every single sentence. Before I start the next sentence, the frenzy drives up. As though they were waiting for me to stop. Reminds me of the ‘repeating’ game that kids play. The drum beat is beautiful. A slow dhup-dahm-dhup-dham, with a cymbal accompanying it through the song. They are perfect. It is the vocals that bother me. They are croaking through a constricted larynx, where the wind whistles and sighs before escaping out the mouth. In this long process, the words are lost somewhere in the middle. Strained ears could not capture the essence of the lost lyrics that meander into the crowing crowd that followed their leader. No, don’t take me wrong. I appreciate their spirit and their prayer. I am just describing it. Well, that they are annoying me is another fact.
Prayer. A novelty I never understood. Nor its purpose, nor its manner. The frenzy is unbelievable. Frenzy always is. People swaying to the tune of music. The drum beating to its heartiest and the heart beating with the drum. You can hardly not be affected. The noise, strange word noise, is pleasantly annoying. I have been here before. I was once within a durga temple. The idol was a stone; red with big white eyes carved upon it. It was when the aarti began that I noticed the huge drum that began being beaten. My heart swung and rang with a different rush of adrenalin that no doctor could supply. When I left, I felt inebriated. I do not know what you call it. The world remained silent for a couple of days after that.
The purpose of prayer is quite contradictory to its origin itself. If there is a god, which there is, omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient; he need not be told what is to be done. He need not be praised and called different names. He knows and shall do what is right. So why does man pray? Why does he feel the necessity to placate and try to coax the all powerful into doing something that he does not want to do? And to do all this at the discomfort of your neighbour is questionable. Or not. For questions raised in this matter often end up with me ‘as a disgrace to my parents’. SO we silently smile and nod our heads as they ask me ‘How’d you like the puja?’…. You don’t want to know.
Maybe I should also pray.
The vein on my forehead is throbbing,
Throbbing with the pulse of life;
Throbbing, Throbbing to the pain of dying,
Dying with the noise of life.
And yet the noise I can bear
The silence puts me to strife;
It awakens deep dark consciences
Asleep in heavely slumber
Awakens it to hellish life.
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
------------------ Walt Whitman.