So at the Hindu Monastery I burn a piece of paper releasing all my problems and not five minutes later I’m in trouble again.
What happened was that I walked through the garden, stopping to admire Lord Shanmuga, a six-faced Hindu god living in a banyan tree, and paid homage to Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles and God of Good Timing (he was so not the God of Good Timing for me), before moving on to the temple where a puja or worship ceremony, was taking place. There were eight or nine people in the temple, mostly women, all in colorful saris, sitting on a dusty rose carpet, chanting and singing and offering up prayers. Incense was being burned and flowers were being offered up and there was a stone bowl in the middle of the floor with a lot of colorful stone orbs, arranged like planets in a solar system. All very intriguing, all very colorful. So, of course, I thought I’d take a couple of photos. Not from inside the temple. Just from outside the door. Because I didn’t want to, you know, interrupt anyone’s puja.
So snap, snap. I take two photos while leaning again this 16-ton black granite Nandi Bull just outside the doors of the temple. Don’t want to overdo things. Don’t want to be intrusive. Just two quick photos. And no sooner have I done this then an older woman with very white hair wearing a green sarong comes out of the shadows and says, “You know it’s forbidden to take photographs of the temple.”
Oh, god, no. Really? And then here’s the bad thing: I lied to her. “Oh, I didn’t take any photos of the temple. I was taking photos of the bull.”
She glared at me. She obviously knew bull when she heard it. “It’s strictly forbidden,” she said. And then she disappeared again into the shadows. So now I’m really in do-do. I’ve got these two photos on my camera. At first I figure I’ll just erase them. But what good would that do? She said it was expressly forbidden to take the photos. Not to keep them. So what I do is hurry back down through the garden to the Mandapam, the pavilion where I’d originally written down and burned my problems. I get a fresh piece of paper and write, I took forbidden photos of temple. Then I light the paper with a match and put it in the urn. I’m hoping that takes care of things. We’ll see.
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