Puja… Again

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

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There is always some kind of festival or holiday going on here in Nepal. For the last month, a few of the children at Hopeful Home have been reading out of a Hindu book, something they apparently do for a month every year. I was raised to believe that during prayer it was important to be silently respectful, but apparently that isn’t the case here or in the rest of Nepal for that matter. After dinner every night a few children would gather around the burning candle and book, while the others in the same small room would be dancing, singing, and doing homework. Even those listening would often talk or get up, making the whole prayer deal very informal and almost a joke.

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Babaji and Puja

“I have never been attached to just one place. I don’t feel like that my home is the city where I was born.”

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Richikesh has many Babas (or Sadhus), wandering Hindu monks who have no home and no past (obviously they have a past, but they live as if they have none). They do not live within society as most of us do, they have no processions, no family, and no job, and instead live their life in a spiritual manner. They often live in forests, caves, or temples, and sometimes, like in Richikesh, just on the street. There are 4-5 million today in India, and they are mostly respected by the rest of society. They receive donations from people as much of the community believes they help to burn off bad karma. Not everyone respects them though, there are many beggars, especially in holy pilgrimage sites, who now pose as Babas in order to be given money or a meal. Something I found surprising was the fact that these holy men smoke a lot of weed (called charrus here), since they believe Shiva, their God, adored the leaves of the plant. Another interesting thing I read is that Sadhus are legally considered dead in India, some of whom even attended their own funeral.

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