On one of the Sundays spent lazing around home, we decided to step out...do some window shopping and follow it up with dinner at some fancy restaurant. On our way to the shopping mall, we crossed a famous temple here in our city...feeling extremely pious and virtuous, I decided to take a detour and we ended up in front of the temple...and at the end of a long queue...
Since we had enough time to spare, we....(actually, solely me!) decided to brave the queue, stay and pay a visit to Mr.God as decided...While making our way at a snail like pace through the corridor that went all the way into the temple, I glanced around to see multiple shops set up on both sides. From shops which sold flowers, fruits, incense and other articles to be given as offerings inside the temple to shops that sold good luck charms, beauty accessories and kitchen cutlery, they had it all covered. And if you hadn't been lured by any of these items on sale, at the entrance of the temple...they had tables set up with volunteers who tried to talk you into making donations to the charitable organization they worked for...(Don't get me wrong...I'm all in for making donations for the needy but when I see such commercialized set ups, I'm not sure if it would be put to the right use... )
So if commercialism didn't help fish that money out of devotees' pockets, they made sure that compassion did...and what if they didn't succeed in that either?
Simple...the free entrance into the temple is blocked and the visitors are forced into purchasing tickets in order to enter through a cave like walk through exhibit that has been set up...they claim that this is the only entrance in to the temple...since we didn't know any better, we bought the tickets but realized that they weren't entirely truthful...By the time we got around to finishing our prayers, I wasn't too sure I was feeling spiritual, I think I was rather aggravated. The whole place screamed of commercialization...Instead of the sense of peace and calm that was supposed to set in, it was irritation and annoyance that filled my mind.
Once we got out of the temple swearing never to make a second visit and got into the shopping mall to make a few purchases...I stepped into a popular restaurant to get a drink for myself and noticed that most of the people who served there had speech and hearing impairments. But they didn't look worried or stressed, but in turn looked ready to help. They served with a smile and were pleasant and amiable...It somehow made me feel better within...I did not feel cheated any more...didn't feel that the world solely ran on money..I felt like there were shreds of humanity left...and that there were people who thought that these guys deserved a chance...The ten minutes I spent inside this restaurant gave me much more peace, satisfaction and happiness than the half hour I had spent inside the temple.
I've heard of a Biblical story of Jesus Christ whipping the money changers in Jerusalem...somehow, when I replayed what had happened at the Temple, it reminded me of this story, and I think I've got a fair idea of what must have been running through his mind. And to see that a place that's been set up to support consumerism is supporting a worthy cause was something that made me feel nice and warm inside.
There are times I wonder where God resides, and this incident just reminds me again that he's found not in palatial complexes made in his name but in the hearts of a few who understand what compassion and charity truly means.
And some day, Dear God, I wish and pray you'd help me be one of those few who knows where to look for you when I need you...