Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hindu House Blessing

What happens at a Hindu house blessing?  Soon I will know.  My Hindu friend suffered a devastating house fire last October, the day after Diwali in fact.  She has spent the last year rebuilding her life out of the ashes. 

She's a modern woman in an industrialized nation, so she hasn't had to do the rebuilding literally with her own two hands.  But in some ways, being a woman in an industrialized nation has brought hassles and headaches that she wouldn't have had if she had lived in a remote village.  She's had to deal with insurance agents and contractors and building inspectors and city/county officials.

But she's persevered, and today we bless the house.  The Hindu priest has decided on an auspicious day and time:  Sept. 15 between 6 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.  So we will arrive before daybreak, take off our shoes and see what happens.

What does one wear to a Hindu house blessing?  I'm assured that it's fine to wear pants; we'll be sitting on the floor part of the time, so pants seem wise.

Are certain colors forbidden?  My Hindu friend says no.

My Hindu friend says that grapes and bananas are customary offerings, so we'll bring those.  Since it's so early, I'm bringing some coffee, which may not be part of the Hindu custom.

Are there other customs?  My Jewish friend has done some research, and she says that we have to watch which way we point our feet.  Of all the ways I've been aware of my physical body, I've never thought about which way I point my feet.

I'm hoping that we'll all have an ecumenical spirit of openness, especially in light of what has been happening in the Mideast in the past week.  My Hindu friend and her friends do seem welcoming and open--like people who would forgive us if we accidentally did something offensive.

I think back to my youth, in the late 70's and early 80's, when ecumenical outreach meant talking to Catholics or Baptists.  As a Lutheran, I was often the oddity in the community.  I didn't meet a Hindu person until--well, maybe, until my current Hindu friend.  I had a Muslim friend in grad school, but we didn't discuss religion much.  I wish now that we had.  I didn't live anyplace that had a large Jewish population until we moved down here.

I'm grateful that my Hindu friend has included me.  I'm grateful that I don't come from a Christian community who would tell her that she'll burn in hell.

I'm grateful for her homecoming, her success in rebuilding her life.  For this, I'll offer a prayer of thanks to God.  And I'm certain that God will smile on us and say, "Wow, a Hindu, a Lutheran, an atheist, a Wiccan, and a Jew all blessing a house--what a cool world I've created!"

1 comment:

rbarenblat said...

I feel certain that God smiled on y'all this morning in precisely the way you describe! :-)