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Eastern Mind
09 May 2012, 04:46 PM
Vannakkam: This is just a question to try to satisfy my own curiosity. Over the years I've been on this forum, I've 'met' or communicated through this medium called the internet with perhaps 30 newcomers, maybe even more - seekers who are asking more about Hinduism.

One of the things I've always encouraged is to visit a local temple. (As most of you know, I'm sort of a temple kind of guy, and that's quite accurately reflected in the India Abroad article, my postings, and elsewhere.) I've even purchased several real time archanas for several people I've met here, sent out real-time prasadam to them. So some have at least in part been to a temple, via my prayers and the priest here chanting their names, sometimes even down to the exact timings so they can sit at home in their shrine rooms, like you'd do an archana for some family friend unable to attend for some odd reason.

But still I know several people (probably about two-thirds of those I've PMed on it etc.) who just can't seem to take that step: actually visit a Hindu temple. Actually go to a Hindu temple and pray to the Gods there. It seems blatantly obvious to me that if you consider yourself a Hindu, then there really shouldn't be a problem.

One of the reasons given is cost, or transportation, or proximity. Once a year? Once? Surely few are that broke that they couldn't go once? American cities have public transportation, last time I heard. Have you any friends? In the Hinduism I know, devotees will drive long distances just to get the blessings of the Lord. Here I often see license plates from BC or Saskatchewan. (google map?) Many devotees routinely come form Calgary, 180 miles away, just for the day. Last weekend my wife and I went to Calgary to visit a small Amman temple. Just for the day.

For the kumbabishekam here this summer, I personally know people who are coming from London, UK, Washington DC, Toronto, and Dallas TX.

I had a colleague at school who was an Arya Samaj person who even though she professed not to believe in it, still told me she and her husband went once or twice a year.

And yet some person who has a steady job, lives 10 miles from a temple, professes to be a Hindu, has read more scriptures than I have, asks all kinds of questions about temples and other things, actually can't go?

What is that holds these friends back? It's obviously fear of something. But what?

I can only think of one 'legitimate' reason.

I actually am really curious because I feel they're missing something. I'm sure I'll get the answer, "You don't have to go to a Hindu temple to be a Hindu" which of course is true. But that's not the question. The question is "Could you?" If I came to your door, picked you up, would you be able to come? (I did try that once, but the person jammed out at the last minute.)

Aum Namasivaya

McKitty
09 May 2012, 05:04 PM
Hello,

Well, if you come at my door and propose that, i'll sure go.
It was complicated before as there is only one temple in my country, in Paris. When I lived in the south with my parents it was really too far away and even with transportation it's nearly seven hours to go there...So it was complicated.

Now that I live by myself in the north, I'm at two hour for Paris. It's more easy and far less expensive for me. But...I don't know. It may be strange for you to see other in such difficulty for a thing that seems natural to you. I'm dying to go to the temple, but I still can't do it.

Why ?

I have go to Tamil Nadu and Kerala for nearly a month, eating veg and going to several temples. I met people there, made friend with priests, it was the most inspiring pilgrimage I've ever done.
So why am I afraid to go to the temple in my country ?

Because in India people accepted me and showed me the way. The worst case, they simply ignored my existence. I am afraid to go in my country because I know people maybe won't accept a non hindu newcomer. What fears me is the fact that'll go totally alone and I know that alone I won't be able to do things correctly and to have a good moment.

I don't know exactly how to behave, if I can do Japa, what do I have to do when I am in front of God, how to prostrate, etc...

Sorry if I sound like a coward or something, it's just my ignorance that paralyze me and the fact of being alone, without a guide make the whole thing more frightening.

Aum~

Eastern Mind
09 May 2012, 05:22 PM
Vannakkam: The Ganesha temple in Paris is run by Sri Lankan Tamils, some of the friendliest most open people you'll ever meet. If there are Mauritian people there, it'll even be friendlier. It will be much like Tamil Nadu. I'm planning on going to the other side of the planet next winter, and not yet sure which flight will be the cheapest. There are a few options, a transfer in Paris being one of them. So if that is the case, I'll let you know, and we can all go together. I will be a stranger in Paradise too, but I'll just walk right in. (BTW, I'm white like you.) It is the House of the Lord, not of the people. He has to welcome me. :)

http://www.templeganesh.fr/

I'll buy you an archana.

Aum Namasivaya

Believer
09 May 2012, 06:06 PM
Namaste,

Now that I live by myself in the north, I'm at two hour for Paris
Many years ago, I contacted the Paris ISKCON temple via their published email address, got their physical address and directions to get there and did an hour's worth of train rides (2) to get to the nearest station. Then showed the directions written in English to few people passing by till I got someone to show me the way to the temple which was in a house in a residential area. When I got there, the weekly class was in session in French, being conducted by a a Frenchman. So, I paid my respects to the murthis, sat there for a while pretending to listen to the priest and then quietly left. Why do I tell this story? Because the only thing one has to be mindful is not to disturb the proceedings of the temple - puja, lecture etc. while entering and to prostarte in front of the deities. So, there is nothing to fear about. The priest was a regular run of the mill Parisan, the class was being conducted in French, and later on the Aarti would have been sung by all, that anyone unfamiliar with it, could stand back and watch. It is nothing to be afraid of. Here is the web address for their temple, ( http://krishnaparis.com/ )which has the program and directions given in English and French. Being on the North side of Paris, it might even be in your own neighborhood.

So McKitty, make an effort and visit one of the temples that EM has given information on, or the one I listed above. You would be surprised at their welcome.

Pranam.

Eastern Mind
09 May 2012, 07:04 PM
Vannakkam: Thanks, Believer, for pointing that out. In my experience the 'white' Hindu is incredibly welcomed. It's like .. "Finally, there is an American (or Canadian, or European) who isn't critical of my faith! Where have you been all this time?" So its almost disproportionately welcoming. (Once its clear you're a Hindu) Some days I'd rather just go and fit in without any fuss. :)

Aum Namasivaya

Jainarayan
09 May 2012, 08:58 PM
But still I know several people (probably about two-thirds of those I've PMed on it etc.) who just can't seem to take that step: actually visit a Hindu temple. Actually go to a Hindu temple and pray to the Gods there. It seems blatantly obvious to me that if you consider yourself a Hindu, then there really shouldn't be a problem.


What is that holds these friends back? It's obviously fear of something. But what?

I can only think of one 'legitimate' reason.

I'm one of those 2/3 or several people you've heard tell of.

It's not so much a matter of considering yourself a Hindu, it's wondering or anticipating how Indian-born or diaspora-born and raised Hindus, will react to you and if they will consider you Hindu.

When you have clinically diagnosed social anxiety and general anxiety disorder, there's fear of the unknown when venturing somewhere for the first time by yourself. Last Diwali and Lakshmi Puja a nice lady on the internet offered to take me to temple if she could. But she's in the UK and I'm in the US. A little logistical problem there. :p

I remember when I first came here I encountered the word 'mleccha' because one of our female posters was called that by an Indian woman at temple and was very hurt by it. That's the sort of thing I fear.

I have met Hindus who get a kick out of it that a white guy is Hindu and proud of it. Of course, that's when it sinks in because it's so unusual. It takes them a moment to register, then the smile lights up.


If I came to your door, picked you up, would you be able to come? (I did try that once, but the person jammed out at the last minute.)

Aum Namasivaya

Yes, without hesitation. And while I might not be wearing a tie, I would at least be wearing better business casual (slacks, open collar shirt, maybe a jacket). Once I got comfortable enough, I might even try a dhoti. But I need someone to hold my hand, as it were, when venturing to someplace new.


Vannakkam: Thanks, Believer, for pointing that out. In my experience the 'white' Hindu is incredibly welcomed. It's like .. "Finally, there is an American (or Canadian, or European) who isn't critical of my faith! Where have you been all this time?" So its almost disproportionately welcoming. (Once its clear you're a Hindu) Some days I'd rather just go and fit in without any fuss. :)

Aum Namasivaya

That's the sort of reaction I am hoping for. Instead of bursting on the scene during a Satyanarayana Puja, it would probably serve me better to go at off-times, get the "lay of the land", spend some time in prayer and meditation, just making a presence, so that when temple regulars see me, they can adapt to me as much as I to them.

Eastern Mind
09 May 2012, 09:52 PM
Vannakkam: Imagining non-existent stuff is part of anxiety disorder, no? (BTW, I have it too. Been on meds for 20 years). If you just go, there will be no need to imagine stuff like Hindus wearing ties. You'll see it for real, and from what I can decipher from your imagining, it will be nothing at all close to what you are thinking. (In some North Indian style temples, the occasional politician type might wear a tie, but its rare.) Ties and suits are tied to some other faiths. Imagining walking into the middle of some large puja disrupting it is imaginary folly too. Fact is, you'll probably not even be noticed. More likely if you go on an off day.

I'm certainly not driving 2000 miles to take some 56 year old guy by the hand to a Hindu temple. :)

But for the record, Boss and I are going to Northern California in about 3 weeks. Looking forward to going to 4 temples in the Bay area, none of which I've ever been to before, two more back in Vancouver, and one small one in the Okanogan area of BC ... 7 in all.

Aum Namasivaya

Maya3
09 May 2012, 09:54 PM
It's definitely the fear of not being accepted at the temple because I'm not Indian.
I've had both good and bad experiences by people of Indian decent when they found out about me and it did make me nervous.

Especially in the beginning, before I knew and was familiar with temple rituals.
I had been going to my ashram for many years before I went to a temple and at first I felt very shy and didn't know what was expected of me.

Now I go to a temple that is very mixed and i'm completely comfortable and woudn't feel that shy if I visit another temple.

Maya

Purana
09 May 2012, 10:00 PM
Just a humble opinion of my own.

Fear and mindfulness is what stopping new devotees from entering a Hindu temple in my views. The fear and mindfulness of possible non-acceptance, scrutiny from the 'original' devotees in the temple. It is like what McKitty mentioned about her thoughts on how to behave, doing the proper Japa, paying proper due respect to God... However she mentioned one eye catching word to me and it is...

'Ignorance.'

Honestly I once shared the same sentiments as her and/or with everybody that may have the same fear. Many questions that starts with, 'What if...?', 'Will they....?', 'Will I be....?' and the list go on that mirrors McKitty's views as well. However, one should remember that you are there for God and yourself, and not for anybody. The process (that what I feel it is) is just like meditation. In the very beginning, you will be prone to interuption in the learning stage. You will be very conscious about the surrounding, whether people are observing you etc etc. It is about the same as the fear of taking a step into the temple for the first time or twice. I would say once you had gone go to a temple enough, like say once every month or twice a year, everything will slowly fall into place. During your free time, you could always search the internet or books to enrich yourself on the culture of Hinduism, at least from this, you would have armed yourself with substantial information of what to do and expect when you visit a temple. That would lessen the doubts in you that I would believe. When you got a chance to visit a temple, observe politely on how the devotees pray and what they do. You could also ask the temple helpers/priests/devotees to assist you on any certain burning questions in your mind. I am very sure they would be glad to share with you.

When I started to visit the Sri Mariamman temple which is near my workplace, I noticed people looking at me and even the tourists as well. Doubts begin to filled my mind, 'Am I sticking out like a sore thumb? Help! I don't want to be noticed! I just want people to leave me alone!' And all the negativity thoughts goes on. Somehow I didn't realised that instead of coming to accomplish my goal in speaking with God, to relax my mind in His sanctity, I am here concerning with how people look at me and mindful whether did I do the wrong things in paying respect? It is these thoughts that pull you away further from being closer to God. No?

As a new devotee, perhaps we may not be able to accomplish or grasp fully of the knowledge of what our fellow brothers and sisters who are born into the religion. Or able to pronounce expertly on the words for prayers due to the foreign language that we are not born to speak it. However, I do believe in one thing. With sincere heart, God accepts you for who you are and all forms of devotion that you had dedicated to Him. It is good to read and learn on the traditional pujas, jappas so on and on. But if you didn't do it or do it not accurately, it doesn't make you any less pious.

I don't really do the traditional ritual on knocking on the temple of your head and doing the squats thrice in venerating my Lord Vinayagar. I love Him just like how I love my close family members. But does that make me less in His eyes? Just like in oppose to the other devotees, I've always walked in circles around my Lord Vinayagar's chapel and touches the doorsteps of the chapel and uses the same fingers to touch my forehead as akin touching His feet and gain His blessings. I don't see the devotees do that nor any of them giving me stares. If they do, honestly, I would either smile at them or simply ignore them. My purpose here is to give my devotion to Him and not to anyone.

Sorry for the long rant but just to share my personal experience in hope that new devotees will brace themselves and continue to move forward.

Oh! Lastly, I am not an ethnic Indian by the way. :) So I am learning the same as everybody here.

Jainarayan
09 May 2012, 10:04 PM
Namaste.


Vannakkam: Imagining non-existent stuff is part of anxiety disorder, no? (BTW, I have it too. Been on meds for 20 years). If you just go, there will be no need to imagine stuff like Hindus wearing ties.

Better living though chemistry, I'm on meds. too. Yes, the imagining is called "negative projection" and "amygdala hijacking". You're right, by just biting the bullet and doing it, the anxiety goes away. You'd think that after all the times like this, I'd learn. :rolleyes:


You'll see it for real, and from what I can decipher from your imagining, it will be nothing at all close to what you are thinking. (In some North Indian style temples, the occasional politician type might wear a tie, but its rare.) Ties and suits are tied to some other faiths. Imagining walking into the middle of some large puja disrupting it is imaginary folly too. Fact is, you'll probably not even be noticed. More likely if you go on an off day.

Well that's all a relief! I probably won't be noticed... I'm a back-of-the-room person anyway.


I'm certainly not driving 2000 miles to take some 56 year old guy by the hand to a Hindu temple. :)

54! :mad:

:D

Happily, I am getting closer to taking the plunge. I keep saying that all the Hindus I know in real life are wonderful people, so it's really stupid to think they turn into gremlins at temple.

Jainarayan
09 May 2012, 10:07 PM
I've had both good and bad experiences by people of Indian decent when they found out about me and it did make me nervous.

Oh thanks a lot! Now you blew everything EM told me. :mad: Where's my blanket to hide under?

:p

Aakriti
10 May 2012, 02:16 AM
I'm in kind of an odd situation because I grew up in the Vedanta Temple in Hollywood, California--which is a beautiful temple (and the place, above all, where I feel the most connected to not only my spirituality, but to the sum of all of the worlds--I once had an extraordinary experience there when I was meditating that I will never, ever forget).

The problem is, "my" temple (as with most all of the Vedanta temples in North America, I would assume) is not at all like real subcontinental/"Indian"-"type" temples are. I now see that what I grew up in, is a highly Westernized version (a "Hollywood" version, to be candid ;) ) of a North American's idea of what a "Hindu temple" might be. And the fact that I grew up with Swami Prabhavananda (born in India), I now see, had not a thing to do with making our temple "look" and "feel" more like a traditional Indian temple.

I have now been to two "authentic" Indian temples (both in the San Fernando Valley, where I live), and they are nothing like the temple I grew up in (or the two temples of the Self-Realization Fellowship, either, both on different ends of Sunset Blvd.)

When I went to my first "authentic" Indian temple, I was very much intimidated. I had read about Hindu temple and etiquette and practice in Hindu temples, but what I encountered was something outside of what I was mentally prepared for. I don't think anyone there realized this (because I'm an experienced world traveler, and I can politely "fake" my way through a lot of situations which I'm not really prepared for), but the truth was: I was intimidated. Taking off shoes was great: I grew up taking off shoes in my Vedanta Temple (except during lectures; shoes were left on for lectures when I was growing up).

But I was very scared I was going to inadvertently do something awful (like showing the soles of my feet to the shrines), or walk in the "wrong" direction...I didn't even dare to ring the bell (I've never done it before)...I didn't know if I could walk in front of the shrines (in one instance, between people who had obviously arranged a private service and the temple priest--I didn't even know if I should be there at that moment)...I was overwhelmed with the size of the murtis (they were unlike anything I'd ever seen before in my Vedanta Temple)...I just felt very, very, very "foreign" (in both instances) in a Hindu temple located less than ten miles from the house I grew up in.

Some etiquette pointers would be greatly appreciated, like about the bell...are we supposed to put donations in the donation box if this is our first visit and we're just passing through?...what do we do if we blunder into someone's private worship ceremony for which they have obviously paid a priest to do?...and I really wanted to do whatever the temple member was doing at the Shiva lingam shrine, but I had NO IDEA what she was doing or if I could do it or HOW COULD I DO IT? And was I transgressing etiquette if I stood there and watched her do what was obviously a private puja?

And many more things I can't think of now.

Anyway, this is my partial answer to your question.

Hope it helps you to understand.

Aakriti
10 May 2012, 02:42 AM
I'm in kind of an odd situation because I grew up in the Vedanta Temple in Hollywood, California--which is a beautiful temple (and the place, above all, where I feel the most connected to not only my spirituality, but to the sum of all of the worlds--I once had an extraordinary experience there when I was meditating that I will never, ever forget).

The problem is, "my" temple (as with most all of the Vedanta temples in North America, I would assume) is not at all like real subcontinental/"Indian"-"type" temples are. I now see that what I grew up in, is a highly Westernized version (a "Hollywood" version, to be candid ;) ) of a North American's idea of what a "Hindu temple" might be. And the fact that I grew up with Swami Prabhavananda (born in India), I now see, had not a thing to do with making our temple "look" and "feel" more like a traditional Indian temple.

I have now been to two "authentic" Indian temples (both in the San Fernando Valley, where I live), and they are nothing like the temple I grew up in (or the two temples of the Self-Realization Fellowship, either, both on different ends of Sunset Blvd.)

When I went to my first "authentic" Indian temple, I was very much intimidated. I had read about Hindu temple and etiquette and practice in Hindu temples, but what I encountered was something outside of what I was mentally prepared for. I don't think anyone there realized this (because I'm an experienced world traveler, and I can politely "fake" my way through a lot of situations which I'm not really prepared for), but the truth was: I was intimidated. Taking off shoes was great: I grew up taking off shoes in my Vedanta Temple (except during lectures; shoes were left on for lectures when I was growing up).

But I was very scared I was going to inadvertently do something awful (like showing the soles of my feet to the shrines), or walk in the "wrong" direction...I didn't even dare to ring the bell (I've never done it before)...I didn't know if I could walk in front of the shrines (in one instance, between people who had obviously arranged a private service and the temple priest--I didn't even know if I should be there at that moment)...I was overwhelmed with the size of the murtis (they were unlike anything I'd ever seen before in my Vedanta Temple)...I just felt very, very, very "foreign" (in both instances) in a Hindu temple located less than ten miles from the house I grew up in.

Some etiquette pointers would be greatly appreciated, like about the bell...are we supposed to put donations in the donation box if this is our first visit and we're just passing through?...what do we do if we blunder into someone's private worship ceremony for which they have obviously paid a priest to do?...and I really wanted to do whatever the temple member was doing at the Shiva lingam shrine, but I had NO IDEA what she was doing or if I could do it or HOW COULD I DO IT?

And many more things I can't think of now.

Anyway, this is my partial answer to your question.

Hope it helps you to understand.

EDITED TO ADD: I had never seen a priest in real life, either. I grew up with assorted monks of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission (both Indian and American born), and suddenly (in both of the temples I visited) there was a real Hindu priest there, dressed as a priest dresses to conduct worship services. I had seen photos of priests conducting pujas, of course, but because I grew up with monks dressed in either American casual, or in guerra (I think this is the word for what they wear after they take final vows), the reality was far more "unexpected" to me than I would have predicted. I doubt that I am the only American who might have this initial reaction.

Eastern Mind
10 May 2012, 08:00 AM
Vannakkam Aakriti: Thank you so much for posting. You've really highlighted some important differences. Personally, I feel far far more comfortable in the second version. I think the first versions, by many traditional standards, could be referred to as lecture halls, or large prayer rooms. Of course any organisation is free to call their place of worship a temple. Even the Mormons do that. Perhaps the essential difference lies in your statement about the size of the murthis. In a traditional style temple, God (in the form of the murthi) takes central stage. It's not a swami's home, or a place with microphones, a place to do hatha yoga, etc. It's God's house, pure and simple. Maybe an analogy is how the White House is the president's house.

Still, for any Hindu, there should be nothing to fear. To answer your questions, you are never interfering with a personal puja being done, unless you walk right up to them and say, "What's going on here?" In a large Indian temple, there may be 20 such ceremonies going on simultaneously, everybody each doing his own thing.

Aum Namasivaya

c.smith
10 May 2012, 08:27 AM
Hari Om!

Not to add fuel to the fire, but trip before last to Haridwar threw me for a loop. Went through many temples and a couple of them did things completely foreign to me. Had always approached Deities going clockwise where Ganesha is usually always situated first. Two mandirs insisted that I make my treck differently - counterclockwise - ending with Ganesh at one. Tried to get an explanation and suddenly the language barrier becomes a problem. A few other small variations too, but livable.

I don't especially feel intimidated any longer but wanted to thank others for having shared some of what I encountered as resistance and ego along the path.

Jai Jai Hanuman!

Maya3
10 May 2012, 08:40 AM
Oh thanks a lot! Now you blew everything EM told me. :mad: Where's my blanket to hide under?

:p

Oh no!

I didn't mean to blow anything. Actually I have not had a bad experience in a temple, but outside in daily life I've had both experiences.

Maya

Eastern Mind
10 May 2012, 08:45 AM
Vannakkam C. Smith. Yes, that compounds the situation. Even here in America, there can be a wide variance between the North style, and the South style. An entrance bell is a prime example. I'd never heard of the counter-clockwise deal til just now, so it would have confused me as well. Perhaps the wisest thing to do is to follow another local around, and just do what they do.:)

But its all fun, and if someone does seem 'upset' usually they really aren't, they're just pointing out the protocol, which is 'obvious' (to them).

But on another note, if I felt seriously mentally uncomfortable in a Hindu temple of any kind, I'd be second guessing my actual religious identity, and going home to look in a mirror.
:)


Aum Namasivaya

Jainarayan
10 May 2012, 09:22 AM
Oh no!

I didn't mean to blow anything. Actually I have not had a bad experience in a temple, but outside in daily life I've had both experiences.

Maya

I know, I was just joking. The tone I was striving for is funnier in person. ;)

Jainarayan
10 May 2012, 09:34 AM
Namaste.


Aum Namasivaya[/quote]

Those funny clingy energies you feel are the coldness and barrenness in a western Christian church. You need a long hot shower to warm up again. Having been raised in the RCC, going to old style churches back in the day as a young'un, I look back now at the coldness. Funny how you see things more clearly from the outside looking in.

An Eastern Orthodox (Greek, Russian, etc.) is far more like what I imagine a Hindu temple to be like. There are images (icons which follow strict rules for creating and displaying). Everything is chanted and sung. There is incense aplenty, candles and lampadas (hanging candle lamps), prostrations, and a general atmosphere of devotion. The only problem is the organization to which these buildings (actually also called temples in EOC parlance) belong. Otherwise EO churches and services are quite beautiful, at least from an aesthetic standpoint.

Eastern Mind
10 May 2012, 10:08 AM
deleted

Jainarayan
10 May 2012, 10:34 AM
It's understandable; some places just don't feel right.

Arjuni
10 May 2012, 12:04 PM
Namasté,

I write from the camp of the non-temple-goers, and my offense is quite egregious: the temple is a twenty-minute walking distance from my home. I have only visited once in the last two years, for a havan a few months ago, and it was a wonderful experience. So, even before this thread, I have questioned my own non-attendance many times.

Worry, ego, the fears mentioned by other members are valid. Yet I found other reasons as well.

One was an Abrahamic influence I hadn't realised was still there. In Christianity, the ritual follows the same form from church to church. A newcomer will find a hymn-book at the seat and a pamphlet passed out with the order of worship, and may learn the prayers and methods by copying others. The essence of the service is a congregation of people singing and praying in unison; the presence of God and service at the altar are more remote realities. Also, in the West generally and in worship particularly, there is restraint expected in public behaviour; except for the "charismatic" churches, many Christians reserve strong devotion and exuberance for private prayers, and are much more solemn and serious in church worship.

Hindu worship is much more organic, expressive, and free-form, with more variance between individual temples, and not at all a unified service with everyone doing the same thing. One is meant to directly, openly experience God; community is secondary. In a Hindu temple, I feel starkly exposed, gazing directly into the face of God - via the murti - in front of a queue of folks who are watching and awaiting a turn. I visited temple daily in Pondicherry, yet never stopped feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable, having a moving, fundamentally "private" experience of God in front of other people. It's a form of "stage fright" that crops up, standing there before the sanctum. This feeling is manageable - I fought the fears every day I went - but it can be difficult, with a Western upbringing.

For me, there are other difficulties too, which may or may not apply to other members. I work two full-time jobs, am frequently weary, and feel it would be wrong to drag my own sagging energies into a sacred space. Because of time/tiredness, my own murtis at home are too much neglected, and I believe strongly that I should have my own house "in order" before attending another. Finally, my own iṣṭa-deva is usually not served in Hindu temples and - with a few very rare exceptions in India - his murti is not present there. So I have much incentive to use my limited time to stay home, tending to my shrine there, to my own Beloved form.

There is one more thought which likely does not apply to other members, but which I will mention briefly, since EM seeks to understand various perspectives. When I attended soma-ritual last year, I walked pradakṣina of the yajña space, and the walk around that open structure, the burning fires, the continuous chants, all felt more sacred than any space, any worship I had yet experienced. Intense was this communion, such that there were photos and film being taken, children walking with me and asking me questions, and many eyes indeed upon me - sometimes with accompanying laughter - yet I hardly noticed any of it. So it seems that the divine rite which resonates most with me is not the temple pūjā, but the worship in fire. I will certainly attend the next temple homa, and would likely go more frequently if they were regularly performed.

Having said all of this, I would nonetheless go to temple if an experienced person locally invited me to go. It would be very helpful to have someone of whom to ask questions, and lovely to have the company of a fellow-worshipper as well. Temple-worship is a very valuable thing, and I do know its importance, though I have the above reasons for usually avoiding it.

Indraneela
===
Oṁ Indrāya Namaḥ.
Oṁ Namaḥ Śivāya.

Believer
10 May 2012, 01:50 PM
Namaste Indraneela,

Going to the temple is generally to deepen one's relationship with God through the association of other devotees, which strengthens your resolve. It is a suggestion and not a 'must do' in one's practice/observance.

With two jobs, lack of your Ishat deva's murti in most mandirs and all the other reasons that you have listed, it is best in your case to stay hinged to the divinity through personal puja at the home alter. However, the need to have a local accompany you to the mandir is something that you yourself will have to work on. Personally, when I feel that I belong somewhere, I don't hold back from going there. So, there is a need to program oneself to believe, 'I belong there, I am going to go there and no one is going to stop me from doing that'. Of course in your case, you have the extreme time and physical/emotional energy constraints after working 2 jobs.

I never hesitate to (rather seek out and) walk into 'white run' hindu mandirs in foreign lands, as I feel that in addition to fulfilling my needs, I provide a degree of authenticity to the whole set up. Conversely, a 'white' person walking into an Indian run mandir provides it with a seal of approval of the SD being for all humanity and not just for the 'born hindus'. From that angle, it is desirable to make an effort, even occasionally, to pop in.

Pranam.

PS Don't forget to massage your Ishat Devta murtis' feet with the mustard oil that you bought. ;)

Tāṇḍava
10 May 2012, 02:26 PM
Namaste Indraneela,

Going to the temple is generally to deepen one's relationship with God through the association of other devotees, which strengthens your resolve. It is a suggestion and not a 'must do' in one's practice/observance.



I would agree with that, but I think that someone who has never been to a temple is missing out on something. I try to go to my local Mandir once a week, which is quite easy as it is very near my work. We have a new dedicated mandir, which is very nice - modern outside but with traditional Murtis inside.

http://www.bradfordmandir.org/resources/_wsb_616x406_DSC_9502.jpg

I also like visiting some of the temples in older converted buildings too, they have a very comfortable and home-like feel

Jainarayan
10 May 2012, 02:44 PM
This the temple I would go to. It is the only one close to me, and at that it's about 20 miles away. It's about 2/3 of the way to work (or 1/3 of the way home from work).

Sri Guruvāyūrappan Temple Sri Krishnaji Mandir (http://www.guruvayurappantemple.org)

These are the photo albums (http://www.guruvayurappantemple.org/Photo_Album.html).

From the photo albums it looks like a nice place, even though it's in a temporary building. The new temple is to be dedicated in July. This is an artist's rendering of the new temple:

http://www.guruvayurappantemple.org/images/NewTemple.jpg

Eastern Mind
10 May 2012, 02:49 PM
One was an Abrahamic influence I hadn't realised was still there.

Vannakkam Indraneela: Your whole post was incredibly astute, as usual. I would have quoted it all, but people have rightly scolded me before on my lazy notion of quoting whole passages. Very impressive. But I just highlighted the part that struck me the most. It's so important to realise past influences. Then you can deal with it. But if you can't even admit that its still there, there's really no way to deal with it. So thanks for that.

I am not entirely comfortable at the temple you are referring to either, but for an entirely different reason than you. It's just the style, as I'm used to the other style. Still, usually we go when passing through your town. There is another one or two smaller ones as well. Maybe next time you'll be rested enough we can go together. I've never been on a Sunday ... Friday nights are 'Tamil' nights, so I've gone then, as well as other times just on the way through. Wonder what they charge to sponsor a havan?

Aum Namasivaya

Tāṇḍava
10 May 2012, 02:50 PM
This the temple I would go to. It is the only one close to me, and at that it's about 20 miles away. It's about 2/3 of the way to work (or 1/3 of the way home from work).

It looks wonderful!

Jainarayan
10 May 2012, 03:00 PM
It does, doesn't it? Now, I might know better if I got there! :o

Vaikuntha Bound.
10 May 2012, 07:37 PM
Namaste,

I would encourage anyone to visit a temple. Right now, I primarily go to an ISKCON mandir. They're extremely welcoming. They know me well enough to know that I'm more drawn to SriVaishnavism, but they welcome me anyway, along with Ramakrishna devotees, people from the local yoga studios, whoever. I occasionally will do service there, because it's a house of God. One of the pujaris has become a close friend. We also have travelled up to a Sri Venkateswara temple in Phoenix a number of times. The people there are just as friendly. On Ram Navami, a couple of people just assumed I was a gaudiya vaishnava looking at a different tradition, but even more people just asked me if I was a devotee of the temple and when I usually came. By the end of it, aunties were picking up my toddler daughter and singing to her. I've also been on offhours, and the priests were just as friendly, and didn't bat an eye at my being there. Be friendly, and people will be friendly back. Usually. :)

Eastern Mind
10 May 2012, 08:54 PM
The new temple is to be dedicated in July.


Vannakkam: Wow, a Mahakumbabhishekham ... temple's experience of a lifetime, like a birth. If I was within 500 miles or one day's drive (instead of 4) I'd go for sure. But its also on the same auspicious dates as the kumbabhishekham here.

Aum Namasivaya

Jainarayan
10 May 2012, 09:07 PM
Then I guess I really should go. I need all the auspiciousness I can get. :)

Mana
13 May 2012, 02:03 AM
हरिः ओम्


Namaste All,


I should love to visit a temple and experience my belief in this way, yet I am somewhat stuck, through lack of options here.


I worship in a temple the creativity and intelligence needed for its design, the sheer volume of divine love that goes into its construction. The wealth of knowledge upon which it is based, and the knowledge which it can then protect within its fine walls.


I should love to and I do feel inspired by the divine grace of the Churches and Cathedrals in Europe, but the resonance within, is one which reminds me of the bad experience that I had before leaving England. Rightly or wrongly, I relate the treatment I received, to the knowledge they contain.


pranāma

mana


ॐ नमः शिवाय
Aum Namaḥ Śivāya

Arjuni
15 May 2012, 07:40 PM
Namasté,

I've been missing posts lately, it seems...

Wonder what they charge to sponsor a havan?
EM, I have wondered this many times. I freely admit that I have been too chicken to go there and ask.

PS Don't forget to massage your Ishat Devta murtis' feet with the mustard oil that you bought.
Believer, mustard oil is far easier to find than an actual murti of Indra, and even rarer is to see an image that speaks to me. The seated-meditation statues of him, such as often come from Nepal, do not resonate. There are a few beautiful painted Hindu images of him, but almost no statues. Ah well. :plays very small violin for self: ;)

Indraneela
===
Oṁ Indrāya Namaḥ.
Oṁ Namaḥ Śivāya.

Eastern Mind
15 May 2012, 07:45 PM
Vannakkam Indraneela: You do realise the priest's wife is a westerner?

Aum Namsivaya

Arjuni
15 May 2012, 07:58 PM
Namasté,

EM, was there a sign above the temple door that I missed? ;)

Seriously, no, I was not aware. But even if she weren't - well, I'm acutely aware that being nervous to go to a temple and talk to a priest is really, really dumb. :p

Indraneela
===
Oṁ Indrāya Namaḥ.
Oṁ Namaḥ Śivāya.

charitra
15 May 2012, 11:01 PM
Vannakkam Indraneela: You do realise the priest's wife is a westerner?Aum Namsivaya

Now thats some nows to me. Seriously, which mandir is that again? :)

satay
16 May 2012, 12:16 AM
namaste,


Vannakkam Indraneela: You do realise the priest's wife is a westerner?

Aum Namsivaya

Yes, Indeed.

Eastern Mind
16 May 2012, 07:53 AM
Now thats some nows to me. Seriously, which mandir is that again? :)

Vannakkam: It's an interesting story, as the priest himself took an odd route. We only visited one day for half an hour or so a few years back, so the details in this old memory will be sketchy. He was a professional (engineer I think) , Brahmin by birth alone, here in the west with a successful career, but became disenchanted, went back to his roots, took quite the pay cut, self-trained, and took some courses, and now is a well respected temple priest.

So, speaking of bucking a trend ....

Aum Namasivaya

Arjuni
16 May 2012, 08:56 AM
Namasté,

I have no idea if there are priests-plural at that temple or the one only - but if he is the same priest who officiated at the havan I attended, he has a beautiful and powerful chanting voice. Evidently, the decision he took for his life was the correct one.

Indraneela
===
Oṁ Indrāya Namaḥ.
Oṁ Namaḥ Śivāya.

Equinox
17 May 2012, 03:45 AM
Vannakkam EM: I've noticed this in my family too. Some of them have their lives connected to the temple and most hold high positions in temple committees. Then there's the other half who have never been to the temple since their childhood and I cant imagine them fitting in a temple environment too. Haha... I dont know why. Each to his own I guess.

And your priest encounter sounds very familiar. There is a priest here too who was an engineer. He's Brahmin by birth and decided to follow the footsteps of his father, who was a famous priest. Now he's a well sought-after priest in a famous temple here.

Eastern Mind
17 May 2012, 08:25 AM
Vannakkam Equinox: I've seen couples from the Indian community come to the temple, and one will go inside for an hour or more, while the other will sit outside in the car reading the newspaper. Sometimes it is a Hindu/non-Hindu marriage, and other times its just plain odd. (to me) About 90% of the time it's the male of the species remaining in the car.

I appreciate that different souls have different approaches to life and to dharma, and can leave it at that. There may have been a powerful childhood negative samskara at play, or some other.

Originally, I started this thread curious as to why converts had difficulty entering temples, but thanks for pointing out that some souls totally familiar with it have difficulty as well.

Aum Namasivaya

Equinox
17 May 2012, 12:11 PM
Vannakkam EM, sorry I didn't realise that earlier. :)

In my opinion, it's probably because they haven't got a calling ( still unconscious) of what it is to be Hindu, and some feel that worshipping in a temple isn't necessary ( especially those who prioritise gaining knowledge through reading and meditation as opposed to practical experiences like going to temple). This is wrong because there's so much positive energy and vibration in a temple. One just has to experience it to understand what i'm talking about.