Monday, January 24, 2022
The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster
My Neighbor’s Prayer: The Vocabulary of Blessing as Common Bond
People who practice Hinduism may begin their day with puja, the ritual of making offerings at a home shrine. This daily practice of connecting with the divine might include offerings of food, water, incense, and light. One might set up a home shrine in the kitchen because it is considered the most pure place in the household. The home shrine likely will include candles, statues of one’s chosen Hindu deities, and possibly even images of holy people who inspire the worshiper.
Below is a Sanskrit Mantra that might be used for one’s daily puja. It was posted on the Hindu American Foundation’s website along with a longer invitation into the many possible daily rituals of prayer. If you’re curious, see the whole puja ceremony here.
As I investigate the language of prayer used by people of global faith traditions, I myself delighted by the similarities and differences. For example I find the language of calling God “imperishable” and “without limits” very familiar and comforting. I also love the intimacy of chanting in Sanskrit, ancient words drenched with history and longevity, anchoring the worshiper across time and space.
I am also curious about the act of setting up a home shrine. While protestant Christianity might not have formal habits of making home shrines, it’s possible some of us do have make-shift spiritual setups in our home, especially in these cold, COVID-y days when many are choosing to join our worship services virtually instead of in person. Do you have a special place in your home that helps you connect to God? What is that space like? What do you do to prepare for worship when you watch virtually? How might the home-oriented, physically-embodied ritual, Hindu practice of puja shift your own thinking about what it means to pray and worship in these digitally-attuned times?
My Neighbor’s Prayer
Oṃ Acyutāya Namaḥ
Oṃ Anantāya Namaḥ
Oṃ Govindāya Namaḥ
Salutation to the Lord who is imperishable
Salutations to the Lord who is without limits
Salutations to Lord Govinda
Hindu prayer from the daily puja