I don’t believe in God. I don’t think rituals and ceremonies make anything happen. What I do believe is that there must be something bigger than you, me- bigger than all of us. The things we are taught and the things we teach- lighting a lamp, saying a prayer, respecting an idol or many idols, fasting…who knows if any of that is actually speaking to something or someone bigger than us? Of course, none of this means that I will ridicule your beliefs.
It is our faith that gives existence to this benevolent, life-giving and life-changing thing.
Since moving here, I light a lamp every evening in front of two tiny idols of Ganesha and Lakshmi- not because I believe that they once existed, but because my mother, my grandmother, grandfather, my aunts and uncles- all of them believe it. As a dancer, spirituality (or some form of it) comes to me only in Bharatnatayam, but today, like so many other awful days, I needed something else.
Today, I prayed for the first time since coming here. I don’t do that very often and it’s something my family never forced on me. The only time I did get shouted at was when I ridiculed it. I see now why that’s an important lesson in growing up.
It’s been a day of a jolting reality check- a reminder that the most important things are not under our control. My uncle survived a heart attack today. While my family in Bangalore is handling it, I can’t do very much from here.
I wish I could have been there, just to help in any way I can, even if it was staying with my grandparents and telling them that everything will be ok and there’s no need to worry. I cried, made phone calls, and finally resorted to some sort of lame consolation over Whatsapp to tell my (not-so) baby cousins that I’m there for them.
To get over my helplessness, I prayed for my uncle to get better, for my family to stay strong. I prayed for their health and safety. I prayed not knowing if anyone was listening and that’s when I heard the bell ring from the church nearby.
For this moment, I’ll take that as a sign of faith that the Universe heard me.