Daily worship of God in a temple is done by Hindus in India. It is not a ritual as many people think, but a way of life. It is meant for 1) physical exercise when a person walks around the shrines 2) meditation by focussing on the divine sculpture made out of wood or stone results in greater concentration and peace of mind 3) exchange of knowledge and information among the devotees 4) refreshing the mind through listening to the holy mantras of God and spiritual discourse made by scholars and pundits, and 5) Recharging the mind and body through the transmission of magnetic and medicinal effects of the water, flowers, twigs, etc. used in the poojas. Besides these advantages, Temples signify the following social and economic benefits to the people.
. One Tamil Proverb says ‘Never reside in a place that has no temple.’ Because, God’s presence can alone protect us. That’s why people use to start anything, be it a new house or business, with the worship of God. Even before establishing a new town, a shrine of God will be erected to seek the grace of god.
Temple towers. They are taller than other structures in the town. This is deliberately done so that even the differently-abled, aged, and ailing persons that cannot worship at the temple, can do so from their homes by raising both the hands over the head.
Water Tank. This lies essentially near the temple premises to serve as the water source for the temple and the devotees who dip and bathe before entering the temple premises. Moreover, this facilitates harvesting of rainwater and recharge of ground water.
Footwear prohibited. Nobody is allowed to go inside a temple with sandals or shoes on their feet. Three reasons for this practice are 1) veneration of God 2) Therapeutic value of the acupressure generated when the bare soles press against the floor, 3) setting the equality among the devote without the differentiation of rich and poor before the Supreme God.
Voluntary Contribution. This is encouraged for the welfare of people living in a place. That’s why the hundies (locked and sealed boxes) are kept in all the temples. Each devotee can share whatever is possible as their donation toward the public welfare and temple expenses. The offerings can be cash or kind as gold, jewels, precious stones and metals, ghee, oil, grains and milk. This habit kindles charity to help others, including the animals, birds, etc. The donors derive great pleasure of sharing for a worthy cause.
Therefore, the temples in India are not the symbols of a religion. They mean a wholesome and meaningful life to the entire humanity. Let us appreciate and preserve the temples for the prosperity and peace.
(Author is a Ex-Banker and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)
Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net