CREDOS : My altar — IV

A few years after we moved to Canada in 1998, I moved into an apartment with a roommate. To my own surprise, I established a small altar in one corner of my new home. In the face of change, it was a way for me to keep in touch with my upbringing and identity. My roommate also had some deities, which I set up alongside mine. I tried to offer daily prayers, but kept the more elaborate rituals, such as bathing the deities, a weekly affair.

I got married last November and moved in with my in-laws. They do not have a home altar. Offering prayers is not a habitual affair for them, although they do pray on Diwali. At that time my grandmother-in-law takes out the pictures of deities she’s kept somewhere in storage and makes a temporary altar. When I moved in, I mostly prayed in my room. But I’ve been meaning to set up a small home altar in my new home.

But when I asked my maternal grandmother about buying some deities, she warned me: You must take care of the deities if you get them. She tried to dissuade me, telling me to wait. “You can’t abandon the gods,” she told me, explaining her concerns. “You have to bathe them, pray to them. Why do you want to take on that responsibility now? Enjoy your life. Go to a nearby temple, when you want to. After a few years, when you are ready, you can set up your own puja.” Nevertheless, early this year, an elderly aunt gave me a beautiful brass representation of Ram, Sita, Lakshman, and Hanuman. —