Temple and religious places have now become so political during pandemic. Is it good to keep it open or closed? Many people have missed the congregation and in fact a lot have struggled to keep it open.
My struggle with temples started around the time my special one started exhibiting autistic behaviors. At the time of diagnosis I had no idea about all issues faced by autistic people but I was kept informed by my elders doing so many rituals at various temples would get him rid of his issues.
We dragged our shouting and screaming boy across various temples in India.
We lived in Boston at that time and the temple there had Ayyappan pooja one Saturday every month, I thought the bhajans and vibes would help him through it.
Just a point I would like to make , both myself and my husband loved visiting temples and loved all the rituals associated with it . In fact something we both have in common.
But as my special one grew up it became such an ordeal that taking him inside a temple seeked the attention of many. Our fights and arguements revolved around the faith we had put in God. We had to accept to the fact temples were not in our list of places to visit.
As my son grew older our maturity and knowledge regarding autism issues evolved. We found his love for food and he loved the temple canteen and the spicy food. He started understanding he can live through the sensory challenges of the temple for a reward for temple food.
I also decided I would make my house a temple and that my spiritual practice can be at home instead of going to temple. So two rooms in my house are dedicated towards prayers and prayers alone. We celebrate all the functions with pomp and my Ani can participate without us or him being judged. He can eat the prasadam even before it is offered to God. Hey but I challenge him nowadays that he shouldn’t touch the food which he tries his level best .
So are we visiting temples? Yes we do . We have been to most of the temples in North East. We even visited The Balaji Temple in Chicago recently to add to our bucket list of temples we visited. But we know temple food takes precedence. We know we cannot participate in a day long event at the temple but can tolerate the duration of one archana.
Even the temple priest here knows Ani loves the raisans more than the almonds. Our prayers at temple has evolved.
Mahaperiyava manimandapam has been established at NJ. So we will be planning for one trip there. Will it be hours together for rudrabhishekam. No maybe for a few minutes at the holy spot and on to a good Indian restaurant.
We have learned to live this way and still be in touch with our faith.