Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesdays at St Anthony's

I've been thinking about the past quite a while today. Suddenly, I remembered how Appa, Amma and I would dutifully make a trip to St Anthony's church in Ooty, every Tuesday for nearly five years. It's been a really long time since we frequented the church, as if it was in another lifetime and yet, I recollect it with such clarity, it could have occurred only yesterday!

Tuesdays were relatively freer days for Amma and Appa, and so we would make the weekly trip to Ooty town all the way from Lovedale. The trip always began with a visit to St Anthony's church (Tuesday being the holy day for St Anthony of Padua) and it always ended with a visit to the Higginbotham's bookstore at Charing Cross Road. As a seven year old child, I used to be in awe of the silence and solitude at the church. I would gaze at the massive crucifix at the center and look around at other people sitting on the pews. At that age I probably didn't understand religion or the fact that I, being a practicing Hindu, technically didn't 'belong' to a church. Ironically, almost every Tuesday, we would visit the Ayyappa Kovil nearby, once we had finished our prayers at the church. Growing up, I don't think I recognized that the two gods were different or even that the two faiths were 'conflicting'. But as you grow older, you realize that not everything is as it seems to be. Which is why I got a terrible shock when a friend of mine asked me, 'So, how do you get these copies of Our Daily Bread? I mean, you're not from my faith!'

And that once again makes me ponder on the somewhat contradictory nature of religion- It convinces the faithful that there is a god who is 'Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient'. So far, great. Sadly, most religious practices (not the religion itself) convince the faithful that theirs is a faith that is far more powerful than others, theirs is a god that is far more superior. No wonder religious fervor turns to blind fundamentalism!

As for me, am fortunate that I recognize Lord Ayyappa and St Anthony to be the same. I still miss our old Tuesday ritual of going to the church, even if I do make frequent trips to temples. So today, feeling nostalgic all of a sudden, I decided to learn a little more about St Anthony. I found out that he is the patron saint for lost objects and prayers to him can help the faithful recover whatever they have misplaced. In fact the popular phrase is “Tony, Tony, turn around. Something’s lost and must be found.”

Hmm, the world is as usual spinning around with crazy people doing even crazier things. Religion has so successfully spread hatred amongst people and fundamentalism seems to be the order of the day. So this Tuesday (Coincidence?), I pray to St Anthony to give us back what we seem to have lost in our rush to win this mad, mad race- our minds.

1 comment:

  1. True Sruthi mol. I too don't find any difference and feel the same fervent devotion be it a temple, mosque or church. I always wonder as to why people get lost in the trees and fail to see the forest when it comes to religion. So much of problems because people complicate a very simple phenomenon. So many divisions and so much hatred would cease to exist if only people see the underlying spirit. Above all politicians and self centered people use religion for effective divide and rule. The sentiment of religion is impressed on people at a very early stage and unfortunately most religions also teach hatred of other religions. That's the pity.

    We are lucky to have been taught to see the same in all.One for all and All for one.

    ReplyDelete

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesdays at St Anthony's

I've been thinking about the past quite a while today. Suddenly, I remembered how Appa, Amma and I would dutifully make a trip to St Anthony's church in Ooty, every Tuesday for nearly five years. It's been a really long time since we frequented the church, as if it was in another lifetime and yet, I recollect it with such clarity, it could have occurred only yesterday!

Tuesdays were relatively freer days for Amma and Appa, and so we would make the weekly trip to Ooty town all the way from Lovedale. The trip always began with a visit to St Anthony's church (Tuesday being the holy day for St Anthony of Padua) and it always ended with a visit to the Higginbotham's bookstore at Charing Cross Road. As a seven year old child, I used to be in awe of the silence and solitude at the church. I would gaze at the massive crucifix at the center and look around at other people sitting on the pews. At that age I probably didn't understand religion or the fact that I, being a practicing Hindu, technically didn't 'belong' to a church. Ironically, almost every Tuesday, we would visit the Ayyappa Kovil nearby, once we had finished our prayers at the church. Growing up, I don't think I recognized that the two gods were different or even that the two faiths were 'conflicting'. But as you grow older, you realize that not everything is as it seems to be. Which is why I got a terrible shock when a friend of mine asked me, 'So, how do you get these copies of Our Daily Bread? I mean, you're not from my faith!'

And that once again makes me ponder on the somewhat contradictory nature of religion- It convinces the faithful that there is a god who is 'Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient'. So far, great. Sadly, most religious practices (not the religion itself) convince the faithful that theirs is a faith that is far more powerful than others, theirs is a god that is far more superior. No wonder religious fervor turns to blind fundamentalism!

As for me, am fortunate that I recognize Lord Ayyappa and St Anthony to be the same. I still miss our old Tuesday ritual of going to the church, even if I do make frequent trips to temples. So today, feeling nostalgic all of a sudden, I decided to learn a little more about St Anthony. I found out that he is the patron saint for lost objects and prayers to him can help the faithful recover whatever they have misplaced. In fact the popular phrase is “Tony, Tony, turn around. Something’s lost and must be found.”

Hmm, the world is as usual spinning around with crazy people doing even crazier things. Religion has so successfully spread hatred amongst people and fundamentalism seems to be the order of the day. So this Tuesday (Coincidence?), I pray to St Anthony to give us back what we seem to have lost in our rush to win this mad, mad race- our minds.

1 comment:

  1. True Sruthi mol. I too don't find any difference and feel the same fervent devotion be it a temple, mosque or church. I always wonder as to why people get lost in the trees and fail to see the forest when it comes to religion. So much of problems because people complicate a very simple phenomenon. So many divisions and so much hatred would cease to exist if only people see the underlying spirit. Above all politicians and self centered people use religion for effective divide and rule. The sentiment of religion is impressed on people at a very early stage and unfortunately most religions also teach hatred of other religions. That's the pity.

    We are lucky to have been taught to see the same in all.One for all and All for one.

    ReplyDelete