Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dedication in performing traditional rituals

Homam - Sacrificial ritual conducted with an altar of fire, as a part of daily worship, festivals and special occasions. A prominent feature in Hindus, we have the Brahmins chanting certain hymns for different homams to invoke the blessings of the almighty.
Few years before, it took a lot of time to prepare and perform these functions. Starting in the early hours of the morning with a homam to invoke the blessings of Lord Ganapathi, the function would probably get over by afternoon. We have the Brahmins chanting sacred hymns. A lovely gathering of relatives and sometimes friends.
Hearing such chants in the early hours of the morning I went to my balcony to listen to them. Well, I have no knowledge of what they chant or should chant. But I do know a few words from the chants, which are common. As I strained myself to listen to the chants, I could find that while chanting, the Brahmins, omitting few words and sometimes a few verses in between and in such speed, seemed to complete the entire performance in a jiffy. The ritual is done more for namesake and the Brahmins seemed more eager to just complete this and walk out rather than do the full homam properly. And if they are not in a hurry, these Brahmins have their attention diverted from the function like the Brahmin who performed a homam at my place 16 years before.
My brother in law had a small tape recorder, the size of a transistor. He wanted to record the chanting by the Brahmins so as to listen in future. Little did he know that he would be distracting them! As my brother in law pressed the record button, the Brahmins eyes and ears were all turned to see this piece. Chanting a few words, then his words would be,
What is this? Oh a recorder so small, are you sure it would record when I chant the hymns? He chanted a few more verses of the sacred hymns. Then back to his queries, would the quality of sound be good? Will I be able to really listen to my voice when I play the same? Back to chanting hymns then his queries again, is it ok if I just hold and see it? Shall I operate the same? Back to chanting hymns. And so on did the function go. Importance given to the small piece of recorder superceded the homam function in total.
Is my brother in law at fault for having had the desire to record the chanting and listen to them at a later date? Or is there a lack of dedication in these Brahmins wherein they do not really put in their full to perform these functions? As a commoner, we sure would not know the full meaning of what the Brahmins chant or whether he is doing the same dedicatedly until and unless we know the hymns by heart.
Advancement in each stage of life has taken a prominent place in our day to day activities and it has not left these functions also. The present scenario, neither shows any dedication on part of the Brahmins nor from the family members who want the homam performed in their home. Of course, there are a few who still pay importance to these functions unfortunately they form a minority and it sure is difficult to get such Brahmins to come to our home and perform the homams/puja.


Saravanan said...

Good one Lakshmi...
I too agree with you.. in today's fast paced life, they too have become fast, cutting the chants short.
Its rare to find the ones who are fully dedicated in what they do.
Luckily our family has got a sincere person, who will even scold us if we are in a hurry to finish. He used to say "why cant you keep aside other things atleast today?"
I came to your blog through your comment on my temple blog.
Thanks for your comments. Keep reading and commenting, which will help me improve.

Vishwanath Seshadri said...

This is Kali Yugam, ma... Everything and everyone is on the path of imperfection.. Purists are few and are on the verge of extinction..

The only way to course correct (I know it is a huge task almost like fighting a tsunami) is to start with the self. Each one of us has a duty to strive for perfection - even then the Kali yugam will make it difficult.

Even if we are willing there are so many distractions (eg. the cell phone). Also, the body tends to complain, the tongue tends to slip, the memory begins to fail etc...

In the midst of so many difficulties, if someone is striving for perfection, that is good enough. The mere intention is sufficient to get the punyams - this is my firm belief.