We belong to different faiths, but we both believe in the essence of a temple; the mild fragrance of incense sticks, the resonate clanging of the temple bell, the trance like quality of chanting shlok, the energetic evening aarti that gives you hope. The other thing that brings hope and faith in our little world is the people we have around us, maybe not physically, but definitely emotionally. Thus our reverence is not restricted to the temple, but spills over to the wall adorned with little gifts we received from our friends and family.
The wooden mandir itself is a blessing from A’s mother. It was handpicked by her years ago for her personal mandir. She had lit lamps in it to keep her family happy and healthy. She was an amazing woman, with love for her fellow beings evident in everything she did; her family was not restricted to the residents of her house, but spread out near and far.
Inside this mandir, we have the friendly god of well being and prosperity, Ganesha. This idol is a gift from my Ma, who, knowing our finicky taste, patiently waited for us to choose for ourselves. She quietly, but firmly, told us that this tiny idol is much needed in our stressful lives; that sometimes it is good to have a physical representation of someone to have faith in.
So in our dark wooden temple sits a royal blue and white, rajasthani stonework Lord. There is also a white marble imprint of the feet (or pagliya as it is called) of Ramdev baba, key to A’s family faith that his father gave him when we installed this mandir. And there is a rosary of 108 wooden beads, given to us by A’s maternal grandma, who is now a Jain nun, or Mara sa, which was her blessing to us as a couple. Apart from this, we have a set of miniature tablas in our mandir and a couple of miniature idols of Natraj and Lakshmi, handpicked by my father on his trip to Hoobly, which he had to get for us for they are so well crafted. This is the whole and sole of our temple; here we fold our hands, bow our heads and close our eyes two minutes a day, and go to work with renewed energy.
Below this temple is a wooden ledge, and over it sits the rest of our spiritual collectibles.
There’s another ornate brass bell, with ganesha carved onto it, which hangs at the far end of the ledge, and marks the end of our temple area.
Thus, we have built ourselves a mandir, where not only do we acknowledge our fears and look for inner peace, but we also celebrate the different relationships that make our lives complete.