As anyone who has visited this space would know, I don’t do personal on this blog, but blogging lately has become a trifle more personal.
On social media and offline, I find a lot of opinions and beliefs shared, about religion and politics, about faith and power. So while blogging, it seems necessary to clarify what I stand for, lest I fall for any old shit that comes my way.
Like any writer, I’ll do this with a story.
Last week, we took a Grabcar, here in Singapore, and were curious when we saw a tiny sculpture of the Hindu god, Lord Ganesha, on the dashboard. We’re not used to elderly Chinese gentlemen driving around with Ganeshas in their car, and a baby Ganesha at that.
(Sidenote: I’m not big on rituals, but I don’t mind Ganesha–a tubby God, with an elephant’s face, an appetite for sweets, who rides a mouse. A God who must be prayed to before all others–he’s the guarantor of success, and the remover of obstacles.)
We asked the driver, and he told us how he came across a neglected Ganesha shrine at his workplace, which he helped keep clean. Then, one day, in a drunken stupor, he ended up at a Ganesha temple, where the worshippers helped him with his plate of offerings.
Afterwards I googled this Ganesha you know, he said, who the hell is he, and then I found out all about his Father Shiva and Mother Parvati.
And then one day, according to him, Ganesha saved his life.
He wanted to take a right at a stop. Ganesha ‘spoke in his head’ and asked him to take a left, and moments later a huge, berserk trailer smashed into the right side of the road.
That same day, he put that baby Ganesha statue in the car, to guide him.
My daughter used to say, dad you love money, but it is not life. She is right, he said. I’m trying to change now.
He carries a card written in Tamil (an Indian language he cannot read or write), with all the accounts of his donations of rice, noodles and curries, as well as his ancestral and family names. He rattled off several Sanskrit prayers.
We bade cheerful goodbyes, and I came away with this story. And yep, we gave him several times the fare.
But what are your names, he said, visibly shaken, I must give your name at the temple.
Pray for everyone, we said, may the Ganesha bring peace and good fortune to one and all.
So, profound or not, here’s what I believe in:
–cab drivers all over the world have stories to tell, you only need ask them.
–a man who eats pork and beef (forbidden for Hindus) everyday, visits a Hindu temple on the weekends, and is made welcome
–money is only good for the smiles it brings people.
–a religion is only as good as the peace and love it creates.
–faith can be toxic, but it also has the power to turn a man towards compassion.
–I may not give Ganesha an offering (it was his birthday a few days ago), but he knows how to get one. Sly God, that.
What do you believe in? Have you heard of Lord Ganesha before, or happen to worship him? To my Indian friends who celebrate the Ganesha Chaturthi, what did you do this year?
What is the importance of faith, and religion? What have you been blogging about lately? Does your blogging involve any religion or politics?
Got any interesting stories to tell?
I co-host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.
This monthly event has brought smiles on the faces of a lot of participants and their audiences, and somewhat restored their faith in humanity. Here’s a sampler. Click here to know more. Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment of September 28!