Skip to main content

Say a little prayer for me in the language of love

Recently, I saw the blurb of a book which asked, "How many of you (Hindus) have seen the inside of a Muslim home and how many of you (Muslims) have seen the inside of a Hindu home?" The question provoked a spark of anger in me because I do not view relationships through the prism of caste, community or religion.

However, I understand what the distinguished writer was trying to say - we are so insulated in our ways that even when we talk about tolerance, we still don't dare step beyond the boundaries of our community, caste or religion. 

When I say this in North India, I am told, "You have only read about Partition. You haven't lost a family member or seen a tragedy unfold before your eyes - it's easy for you to talk like this." Maybe...

However, one of the many advantages of having grown up outside India and then during my teens, in Kerala, is that I never learned the social distinction between "Hindus"and "Muslims." There was never "we" versus "them" debate - it was always "we."  It didn't ever matter that we had different names for Gods or for our beliefs. 



My father is a doctor. A majority of his patients are from the Muslim community. Whenever there is an occasion in our home and prasad is distributed to everyone, no one refuses and if they have, my father would not take offence. Once I asked my father, "What is the saddest moment in your life which you wish you could change?" 

His reply was, "My best friend Dr. Moideen had to stand outside a temple for my marriage because he is a non Hindu and cannot enter - but I had told him to come in because it doesn't make a difference to me. He said no, this is not about you and me - it is about faith and I cannot disrespect or dishonor your faith."

Today, when I see my Facebook timelines filled with angry posts from Malayalis ranting for or against beef, hitting out at each other's religions and the beliefs, I find myself longing for the bygone era when a Dr. Raghu and a Dr. Moideen could eat their meals together, their wives could cook whatever they wanted without worrying about the different names of God or the beliefs they personally held on to. 

It was the same in Africa, where the Asian community always stood together. The Indians, the Pakistanis and the Sri Lankans were one people, alienated from their homes and cultures and therefore, more loving and welcoming in celebrating unity in diversity.

When my mother and I first joined my father in Africa, we were first welcomed to the new country by Mohammed uncle, a Pakistani. 

A lovely meal was prepared by his wife and we stayed there for a day till we could shift to our new home. Even after we shifted to our new home, the two families remained close and always invited one another to celebrate important occasions. This meant that Eid was celebrated in Mohammed uncle's home with his family and Onam and Vishu were celebrated in our home with his family. 

There was never a talk of "Hindus" or "Muslims" and yet there was always warm understanding. Aunty took care not to serve beef to my family when we were invited to their home and my mother took care to make sure there were several non vegetarian dishes when they were invited. 

In Africa, where we lived, I would head out to Kasim Uncle's home where I spent time with his daughter. Kasim uncle, a Pakistani, was one of our dearest friends till we left the country. 

That reminds me of something very tiny but significant. 

Months ago, I received a WhatsApp message from a friend who wrote to me from a Gulf nation. It read like this: " Just wanted to let you know that the gift you had sent is special to us. My mother uses the prayer mat daily, the one that you gifted. In our daily prayers, we pray for the well being of your family too."

This message warmed my heart and restores my faith in myself. 

Continents away, religions apart, there is a family that remembers me in their prayers. We have different paths that we believe in. Our gods have different names and so have the holy books we follow. 

Whenever I see angry posts on my Facebook timeline, people hitting out and accusing each other in the name of religion, I remember this friend, whose family prays to a different God in a different way but they find it in their hearts to include me in their prayers.

Can we look deep within ourselves, look beyond our prejudices, nurture love and trust each other despite our differences once again?

That, to me, is the essence of God, religion and prayer.

And when you do pray, say a little prayer for me.

Comments

Vishnu said…
I don't know if we can change society Swapna but we can each practice our own faith more, which means more love, less judgment and more compassion.
Rashmi Jain said…
This is my first great blog Shop For Heavenly Heart Thanks For The Sharing With Us Keep It Up.
Asha said…
This is such a beautiful post Swapna. the personal anecdotes you have written are so heart warming to read
@Vishnu: You are right, Vishnu, we can't change the society. But like you mentioned, we can practice our faith with more love, less judgment and more compassion. That's the best way.

@Asha: So glad that you liked this post. And yes, I wrote it from the heart. Thank you, dear Asha.
Haddock said…
In each one's life there are a few Dr. Raghu and a Dr. Moideen who always stand out for the person he/she is.
We never forget them.
Himani Gaur said…
A beautiful post Swapna. I have had such incidents in life wherein i felt that this divide between Hindu and Muslims is deepened by people with narrow mentalities.There is no bigger religion than humanity. Even i share my views on hinduism through my blog on http://www.kalyanpuja.com

Most Popular Posts

The Ugly Truth about Caste in Kerala

This post on Kerala's caste system has not been written with an intention to ridicule or glorify any caste as such. I do not ever judge or like to be judged on the basis of my caste. I do not support any form of caste discrimination because I know exactly how it feels to be treated differently because of one's caste. It isn't a great feeling.  

First Question is always "What is your Caste?" In Kerala, one of the first things you are bound to be asked by even new people you've just met is, "What is your caste?"  This is not a tirade against any caste but my experience, personally. And just for information, I have never used my caste name 'Menon' to this day. That is something I have learned from my father - who has never used 'Menon' in his name because he believes his destiny is shaped by values, vision and actions, not  by his caste.
As some one who is a Menon by birth, I can also tell you frankly that it often feels like a curse to be…

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Meaning, Benefit of Chanting and Who can Chant the Mantra

There are very few mantras that are as powerful as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra: Benefit of chanting this mantra
This mantra is believed to have the power to remove all sufferings, diseases and bestow the one who chants it with good health and long life. It is also believed that constant contemplation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can help spiritual aspirants to overcome the cycle of birth and death.
What got me fascinated about this mantra is something personal.  I learned this mantra from my father but it is my maternal grandmother who chanted it all the time and repeatedly told me of its tremendous power to protect. However, I did not chant this mantra regularly. 
But at the age of two, my son was taught some mantras by my mother who explained what it means to him and he became very enthusiastic about chanting the mantras. Following this, my mother taught him the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and he took to …

Amazing Signs You are an Earth Angel

Doreen Virtue’s book, “Assertiveness for Earth Angels” brings to life the reality of Earth Angels in very easy way. It’s an exciting must-read! [ALSO READ: How to NEVER EVER GIVE UP on the spiritual path]

Earth Angels have amazing super powers in: MusicArtsWriting HealingManifesting miracles for others such as controlling weather conditions &  becoming invisible at will
DO READ: ASK MORE, FEAR LESS.

How to Identify Earth Angels by their Traits
To know whether you are an Earth Angel, take a look at their known traits that are explained in this book:


You have a graceful and compassionate aura that inspires people.Your presence “lifts” everyone to happier spirits – it is proof of who you really are.You don’t judge others but you overdo the “acceptance” bit. So, you tolerate even those who show no respect for boundaries.You cannot stand anyone suffering or being in pain. You are constantly “rescuing people” because it is in your nature to want to see everyone happy in this world. But y…

Gayatri Mantra as Panchamukhi: Get it right or let it go

Most people do not understand the importance of chanting the Gayatri mantra because they are not aware of its power. It is only when I began to read Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba's teachings that I learned how sacred and powerful the chanting of the Gayatri mantra is.
The Vedas represent the breath of God. The Gayatri mantra is the very basis of the Vedas. Try not to undertake chanting the Gayatri mantra as a light endeavor or as a hobby. It has to be chanted with faith, discipline and purity of mind and body. Be steady with your sadhana if you want to reap the spiritual dividend associated with the Gayatri mantra  and never once hesitate once you decide to do it.
Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba said that the Gayatri Mantra is referred to as Pancha Mukhi, the Goddess with five faces that represent the five pranas or life forces. Here's more on it.


Chant the Gayatri Mantra correctly: Pause Five Times Here are some important things to keep in mind while chanting the Gayatri mantra:

1. Wh…

Mahashivaratri: I'm loving it!

When I was a child, Mahashivaratri bhajans used to be conducted at home. It meant 24X7 work for my parents, especially my mother. But this is the one festival that we loved to get ready for. 
You had to prepare in advance for hosting so many people overnight. They had to be comfortable yet alert because no one who stays can be allowed to fall asleep unless they are unwell or on medication. So, if there were aunties who wanted to take a ten-minute nap, I would time it and call them exactly in ten minutes!
The joy of watching grown-ups make a fool of themselves over getting few more minutes of sleep cannot be underestimated especially when you are ten or twelve years old!
Perhaps it is those beautiful growing up years that make it difficult for me to stay away from an all-night vigil during Mahashivaratri. I can't stay away from it no matter where I am, even if the following day is a working day. This year too, I attended the Mahashivaratri bhajans at the Sai Center, Lodhi Road, and I …

Malayalam Actress Kalpana: Keep Shining Your Light among the Celestial Stars

A colleague called out to me, from the news desk, "Did you see this breaking news, Swapna?"

I froze when I saw the breaking news that read: "Kalpana dead."

My first thought was, "There's been some mistake, this can't be true." 

But this news turned out to be true. 

Many actors in the Malayalam film industry are still in a state of shock on hearing this news. People from all walks of life are paying emotional tributes to her. She was an accomplished actress but that's not the only reason why people love her. She mingled with people easily and warmly. She showed love and warmth to everyone she met. 

Like hundreds of Malayalam movie goers, I too grew up watching many of Kalpanachechi's comedy sequences. 




Charlie was her last film, she had a heart wrenching role in it as 'Queen Mary'.  I had closed my eyes in the scene where she embraces death. 

As actor Prithviraj tweeted, "What a sign-off in Charlie!"


My brother Manoj B Menon is li…