February 2017 While reading an article by a foreigner travelling in India, I was struck by her description of the fragrances that floated out of different houses and places of worship in the evening, irrespective of which religion they belonged to. In temples, the performer of the aarti starts by cleaning the idol, removing old flowers, redecorating the idol with fresh flowers or ornaments, and sometimes changing the garment too. Then he lights the diya, and a few incense sticks, offers prasad as per the taste of the deity, and with the diya in his right hand and the ringing bell in his left, starts singing and praising the deity’s physical beauty, strength and powers that bestow health, wealth, and happiness on its followers. After the aarti is over, one can actually feel the difference in the atmosphere; as if the gods are pleased, have accepted your prayers and answered them too. What if we performed this ritual in our daily life for our near and dear ones too? Men could do the aarti for their wives, who have always yearned for their attention and appreciation, and justifiably so since they are the fulcrum of the family. On such occasions, maybe once or twice a month, he could get her new clothes, and jewellery, which could be real gold, artificial or made of flowers; the house can be decorated with flowers and diyas, soft romantic music can be played in the background and food of her liking can be cooked or ordered from outside. During the aarti he could extol her virtues, appreciate all that she does for everyone, acknowledge her physical beauty, and inner beauty. He could also express his love for her, which gets buried under the regular stresses of life, even asking for forgiveness for any mistake and promising to be more caring, loving, and supportive in the future. Once the aarti is over, and the goddess is overjoyed, imagine the atmosphere in the room. It will be greater than any kind of bliss, and by making one human being so happy, loved and appreciated, you actually make God happy. And last but not the very least, do not forget the ‘donation box’—the fatter the envelope, the better. By Nirmal Minawala, Mumbai
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