After my conversation with Mataaji, I went back in the kitchen to help. One of the twins taught me how to make a samosa. I thought I flunked again, but he told me that I was good at it. I just don’t want to ruin their feast so I stopped making stuff and just observed the devotees.
After a couple of minutes, Prabhu called everyone so that we can already start the ceremonies before the feast. We all hurried upstairs.
In the altar, I saw small amounts of every viand that we prepared. They call it the Prasadam, meaning the food was already offered to the Lord. The devotees call it “mercies of God”.
Then, Prabhu asked each devotee to get 3 petals in the bowl next to us. Then he instructed us to offer one petal at a time in the altar and offer obeisances in front of it.
First petal…. Bow down.
Second petal…Bow down.
Third petal…Bow down.
After the petal ceremonies, we did the chanting and dancing similar to the morning program until it ended. The devotees exhaustion from the tedious preparation of food was gone. Strength was renewed. I myself felt that bliss.
The devotees and I went downstairs in the kitchen to get the viands that we prepared. I’m good in carrying stuff, so this time, I felt that I am very useful. Prabhu took the food offering in the altar and returned each food in their respective food containers.
Then the devotees prepared my plate and asked me to sit in the garden floor outside the temple. One by one, the devotees sat with me. There were 9 of us that time. It was a good weather and a good conversation. We were laughing at simple things plus we can now say that the food is delicious. I sighed and said to myself “This is the REAL life”.
After the meal, Prabhu instructed us to clean the temple. The twins and Vraja’s brother were instructed to clean the kitchen. Vraja and I were assigned in the garden.
That moment, I cannot help but smile while sweeping the floor. God really did designed that day perfectly. A week ago, Vraja was just a stranger in front of a Buddhist temple. Now, I am with him cleaning the temple after a huge feast. I felt good. My spirit was refreshed. I met great people who were passionate about God, living simple lives. Their stories are inspiring. I chanted. I danced. I cooked. I served. I worshiped.
One great lesson that I’ve learned in my day with the Hare Krishnas is that although we have differences with our beliefs, we also have loads of similarities. I really want to focus on the latter. I really want to understand instead of pushing others away. That’s who I am before. Scared to challenge my faith. Scared to meet people outside my religion. Scared to ask. Scared to learn. But now I am free from that. Real faith is willing to embrace the unknown, the unfamiliar and the mysteries of life.
To the Hare Krishna devotees in Manila, I really thank you for a wonderful experience. I have learned a lot. Thank you for being God-like and welcoming me with open arms. I will be back very soon. Hare Krishna!