Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Temples Teach

How does one protest against the rules of a temple? I visited a local Swaminarayan temple yesterday. We were just three people in a massive auditorium that temporarily houses the gods. They are building a huge (Italian) marble main temple next door.

There were two seating sections in this auditorium divided by a 
w  i  d  e aisle: one for the men and one for the women. My son Mukunda sat next to me because, what the hay, there was no one there. But, from God knows where (!), an eagle-eyed woman who saw through Mukunda’s disguise of beard and moustache came up to us and reminded us of the rules of the temple. Mukunda had to go to the other section. He was one among a thousand empty chairs on the left side of the auditorium. 

Women are not given tilak by the pandit. He hands it over to the male member of the family and he gives it to the women!! I believe the pandit keeps himself pure this way.
Purity is also maintained through separate chambers for men’s and women’s footwear so they have no way of pouncing on one another in lust.

I thought I should gloss over all this and just do what I came to do – pray. I pray that people treat each other with respect, consider all equal.

I knew this would be my last visit to that temple. The woman who made my son go over to the other section is only one of those thousands of women who will be taught to do the same. She will play an integral part in humiliating her own sex in the name of religion.

God is in my own home and I am very comfortable praying there.