Who wound have thought it, that i have met the most devout devotee of Shiva and Ram in my life, running a tobacco store in the middle of the boonies where i live? A couple months ago i was driving over the mountain to see Dutch Jeff and on the way was low on smokes so found this little store with a drive thru window and i went inside to buy some of my favourite Black and Mild wood tipped wine flavoured cigarillos. The store had the usual tobacco products, but also a long shelf of incense both Indian and even Santeria. The prices were better by a bit from other stores scattered over three counties.
The owner is an Indian i shall name Rush which is a shortening and Americanization of his full Hindu name. He spoke little English but enough for us to communicate. One of the older female workers, i assume a relative, helped translate at times in between his hectic tending the drive thru window and walk in customers, let along a blanc dressed like a local hick as i dress when out in the county. Over the next few visits over a few weeks to a month and a half i established that he primarily worships Rama and then Shiva. Now as any of you know who read this blog i may be a Witch but my main God is Shiva. We talked about his homeland, which is NW India in the province of Utar Pradash near Kashmir. I bemoaned the violence there since the Brits split that part of the country, which was mostly Hindu, into part of Pakistan, which of course is mostly Moslem. Its a shame because the Indian Kush mountains and fine lakes of Kashmir are some of the most beautiful places on the planet, and the English lords and Hindu Raj used to vacation there away from the heat of Benares.
On further visits to the store, and talking with Rush, we went even further into his beliefs and devotion especially to Rama, and when he described his God he would look up arms raised eyes almost rolled back in devotion. He is truly a very spiritual devotee and inspired me. His one female co-worker and i assume a relative translated a lot for us and one day she asked “you like our religion?” to which i said about how i had various Shaktipat initiations into Shaivism and Vaishavism, how i had lived at an ashram whose lineage went back to Lord Lakulash the 28th incarnation of Shiva, how i was an ordained Buddhist monk for a bit, and about the various deities i work with, being devoted to Lord Shiva, Ganesha, Shakti and the Nagas and Naginis.
On a later visit i knew they had a shrine hidden somewhere and boldly but humbly asked to see it to offer puja. I bought some incense and Rush took me upstairs to a shrine directly behind and above the cash register and showed me a shrine with Ganesh, Lakshmi, Sarasvati, and behind them all Mahakal and Mahakali. I offered puja and did a blessing on myself and then on Rush with the proper mantras and mudras. I think he was impressed i knew such things.
Finally the big visit, where he and the lady working with him (sorry i cannot remember her name given to me only once) both gave me gifts. He pulled out a small folded paper which had some of the sacred blessed ask of Shiva and she a mustard seed, both from their Mahakal temple linked below which is where they were from. I dipped my right hand three fingers into the ask and made the three horizontal lines across my forehead and changed Sivoham. They then gave me some more ash, of which he had little, and the seed, and later when i returned i showed him how i had put these into a small glass vial and was wearing it around my neck with a red cotton thread. I thought their jaws were going to drop open when i did the above.
Just a little teaching here for those who do not know – the white ash of Shiva is from burning a special wood, preferably wood from a cremation group, and it represents the bija or semen of Shiva. The red ash called kum-kum is also burned from a special wood and represents the menstrual blood of Kali. This is used in the red dot tilaks one sees on Indian ladies foreheads.
On investigation of the Mahakal temple i realized it specialized in Tantric Shaivism and Shaktism, and hinted to Rush about some tantric terms, and they knew what i was talking about.
I think in the future Rush will invite me to his and his wife’s home (they both have their green cards and were married privately (it not being an arranged marriage), then in front of their families, then in front of the priest of the temple) and i look forward to that and the Indian meal cooked by someone from that part of India!
So, how strange, to meet such devotees in a tobacco store in the middle of BFE so nearby. So very strange indeed. But then we are devotees of the same Gods and Goddess, and i am a Witch so such “weaving of the threads” happens as you all know….
Embedded above and throughout this post are some pictures of Shiva which are public access from various sites and Tumblr pages, and below are links i found to their temple and some videos of puja there. Those particular images of the Mahakal Temple i will leave for you to see at these sites.
Here is a good touristy site of various temples especially of the Mahakaleshwar jyotirling (there are 12 jyoti lingums in India, meaning lingum of light, the essence of Shiva, self generated, and the Mahakal temple is one of the main ones).
Mahakal Shiva in his Nepalese Buddhist form as Mahakala
Here is the Wikipedia link to the Mahakal Temple.
Here is the long puja with arati done at the temple.
Naga worship or Naga Puja is also done at the Mahakal temple, a practice dear to my heart and practice, and here is the Wiki on that.
Here is a complete video of some of the parts of Naga Puja.
And finally for those who wish to know when the various and multiple deities of India are honoured i refer you to the Hindu Festival Calendar.
Here are some pics of Shiva/Shakti in Hermaphroditic form as half female and half male, called Hari-Hara is parts of India.
And some pictures of Lord Ganesha
Rahu / Rahula a manifestation of Mahakala Shiva eating the Sun and Moon, and a Shiva lingum and Shakti yoni with Naga.
Some pictures of Mahakali
Here are two pictures of Lord Lakulash the 28th physical incarnation of Shiva, who when he was about to die had his disciple sit around him and close their eyes and meditate and when they opened their eyes he had merged into the lingum in stone as part of it.
Om Namo Vasodevaya!
Om Jai Ganesha!
Om Hare Krsna Hare Rama Hare Shivaya!
Om Namah Shivaya!
And to soften this out almost at the end of this post, the grouping of Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Ganesha
Oh and here is the completion of the benign Nagini on my right thigh and the Vetala (vampire succubus) Nagini on my left thigh. These are poor pics and i hope once they are fully healed to have better ones to share in the future. Enjoy!
These last two images are Copyright 2014 GLHoke