Good Hindu Religious Service Essay Example
Recently, I have visited a Hindu temple in the city of New York. The temple is so unique with authentic architectural designs and sculptures. From the temple, I observed that the rituals, sacred texts and deities are different in various ways. The temple provides religious services starting from Friday evening, throughout Saturday, Sunday until Monday evening. Depending upon their convenience, Indian Hindus attend the services at the temple. A Hindu priest at the temple who was also a college professor told me that the participants in the temple services do not consider themselves as the members of congregation as they neither have exclusive relations with the temple nor close social relationships with other participants. Unlike Christian churches the Hindu temples do not offer any practical services, such as immigration orientation, family counseling, job referral or after-school programs.
The priest at the temple said that the temple provides a health clinic twice a year. In the temple, I observed a Hindu family performing a ritual under the guidance of a priest in a separate room in the temple with a few friends and relatives. The ritual was an individual family affair with no other participants. Within the temple, there were various traditional Indian sculptures symbolizing the Indian culture. I observed the entire religious service performed by the family in which the participants read scriptures written in Sanskrit and Hindi. They sang, prayed and chanted various hymns. One of the participant, I came to know that the deities they worship have a close relation to their local culture. The priest advocated various religious values during the ritual, such as non-violence, truth, peace, duty and many others. He also chanted certain prayers for the good health, wealth and prosperity of the participants. To some participants, the priest offered a liquid called ‘Teerth’, which is holy water offered to God.
With the prior permission of the priest, I was able to stay in the temple for an entire day and grasp various rituals performed by the Hindu families. I saw an Indian Hindu family performing a religious service in which they shaved off a newborn baby’s hair stating that it was their custom to do so. I saw another family performing a ceremony in which they were feeding a one year-old baby with solid food. The third service that I observed was regarding the beginning of education of a three year-old child. The family was teaching alphabets to the baby for the first time in the temple in the presence of a deity called Saraswati. The priest told me that most of the families perform these services at their home in the presence of the priest. I also came to know there are two different ceremonies performed at the time of marriage and death, which are very complex and complicated in nature.
The Hindus call the religious service by the name ‘Puja’. Throughout the Puja, the priest was articulating various prayers and leading chants in Sanskrit. The priest said that the Hindus call him by the name ‘Pandit’ and the chants he was chanting were none other than ‘mantras’. In the temple, I observed the priest distributing food to the participants, which they call ‘prasad’. The priest informed that during any worship service, the Hindus offer food to the God in the form of ‘Neivedya’ and then consume it with great respect and honor. The Hindus visit the temple to pray to the deity, which they call as ‘Darshan’. The priest said that it is the culture of the Hindus to consume vegetarian food during the religious services. He also mentioned that during the early mornings and evenings, the Hindus sing ‘Bhajans’ or religious songs, which are prayers to God.
I saw another family performing the ‘Satyanarayan Puja’, which is for a blessing to the entire family to wish good luck in their daughters, one joining a new job and the other taking admission into graduation at a reputed university. This particular worship took a long time, almost half-a-day when compared to the other services. The family offered incense sticks, flowers, fruits various other food items to God. During the Puja, the priest also told a long story, which contained various sections. My overall reaction of the religious service is positive. I found surprised by the way the Hindus still maintain their authenticity by performing every ritual, which they would perform at their hometown. The Hindus paid utmost attention while performing the Puja, which indicates their sincerity towards God.
The participants of the service were very friendly during their conversation and informed every detail of the service with patience. They also behaved well-mannered and enthusiastic to speak about their authenticity. A few participants also invited me to their homes on special occasions so that I would be able to witness the Puja. The priest advised to visit the temple during the weekends because it is during the weekends that more Hindus visit the temple to worship the God. He also offered me certain books, which contain information on the Hindu religious services carried out both at home and the temple. From the worship services, I understood that the rituals the Hindus perform are a true reflection of their religious values and culture.
On the whole, it was a great experience to observe the religious services at one of the famous temples in New York. The religious services at the temple were unique and reflect the ethnic culture of India. The worship or Puja performed at the temple was not only interesting, but also informative to understand the essence of the service. The priest helped me gain knowledge about the entire procedure of worship. I came to know about various ceremonies performed by the Hindus, especially, the ‘Satyanarayan Puja’, which the entire family celebrates with great rigor by offering incense sticks, fruits, food and various other items. I felt impressed as the religious services involve the participation of both infants as well as the elderly.