On every street corner, in every living room, at the entrance to buildings humble and grand, stand the gods in their shrines. They are painted, forged, sculpted, carved. It is extraordinary, the level of attention paid to the various deities of everyday life.

These gods are given offerings of rose petals and marigolds, bowls of honey, burning incense, grain--whatever they need to remain happy and present. I'm particularly drawn to ganesh, that dancing elephant who removes all obstacles.

I'm captivated by a culture that makes the time to observe--actually, to create-- small, everyday moments of grace.


Bruce Barone said...

I am, too.

"Absolute attention is prayer." Simone Weil

Anonymous said...

Ganesh was my favorite as well. I was amazed as well about the spirit of everyone and how the material world was just a stepping stone to nirvana. Made me pause.

Nancy said...

I bought a little bronze Ganesh in Varanasi, who sits over my door on a little platform. He makes me remember all the Indian entries blessed by Ganesh's presence, - as is my own.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Found your blog through your Feb 2011 Good Housekeeping article. But I had to google search you because they misprinted it as slowlifelove.com! Anyway, I love what I see so far. :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I loved your article. ~Nichole

Bruce Barone said...

Posted today by photographer Art Wolfe:


pve design said...

No reason why we cannot do the same in each of our homes....a bowl of fresh oranges, some incense....a small statue or some earthly crystals.....and a moment to reflect upon the goodness.

Unknown said...

Fascinated as always by your insights; also wondering if Americans paid such close attention to our inherent heritage and (short) history we'd ever be able to function...
To wit: if everyone in Boston actually knew what was at stake in every acre of the "Freedom Trail", how would we ever find a place to park, to shop, to have a casual conversation in a coffee house?
Sometimes cultural amnesia is a welcome tonic in a very busy world.

Cristina said...

are you still resisting the temptation to buy all kinds of gorgeous silks, astonishing ethnic jewels and lovely incenses? (I've never been to India - not yet! - but that's what I'd like to bring home from a trip there).

Snippets/Sarah said...

Every day I am learning something new in blogland. Wonderful photos and so, so interesting to get a peek onto the streets of India. Thank you!

david terry said...

Dear "Bradley",

I read "Sometimes cultural amnesia is a welcome tonic in a very busy world."

I read that and, of course, recalled my previous posting of a quotation from "The Raj Quartet" (in which a very worldly Indian woman reacts, in 1943, to the quite sudden and quite thorough revulsion many self-nominated British "Liberals" felt and publicly demonstrated when they learned that their "Gandhi The Saint" was also Gandhi, the very shrewd and UTTERLY focused politician (who lived very much in the "Real World", thank you).

I've been, for a long time now, surprised by Americans who are put-off (to say the least) by celebratory "Day of the Dead" ceremonies/rituals/whatever-you- want-to-call-them observances in Mexico. Of course, the line between "Mexico" and "US" is increasingly a very vague one. I recall one American woman's telling me (this was about ten years ago) "Why in the WORLD would you drag CHILDREN off to have a PICNIC in a graveyard!!!!!!"....

Similarly? I've known Americans who, having returned from Sicily or any number of provincial regions in Italy, make a big, self-congratulatory fuss over how "WEIRD" it was to come across some shrine or altar at every corner...or in the most "unexpected" places. Frances Mayes (who found that the property she'd bought in Italy had a regularly visited and attended-to shrine to The Virgin at the front off the property she'd bought in Italy) and Barbara Grizzuti Harrison both provide useful tips for not-acting-like-such-an-American when you encounter such things/situations.

Similarly (#2, I know).....I, myself, always look more than a bit askance these days when I have to visit some place such as Monticello or Destrehan Plantation. the current caretakers bend over BACKWARDS and do any number of flips....strenuously "explaining" (via over-labored and pre-prepared "guide-talks") that SLAVES lived here and built these places over hundreds of years.

And I think "Well, DUHHHHH?....do you have to explain that to folks? don't they already know it? Where the hell are these people FROM?"

I suppose they DON'T, actually, know. Fortunately, I don't have the responsibility of being a public educator in America.

In France, I've long grown used to this business of finishing up a pleasant, informal, absolutely-fun Saturday lunch with various aunts and great-aunts.....and then quickly dressing up formally (coats and tie, thank you) so that we can all trot (or trudge, depending on your age) down to the cemetery to change the flowers on various relative's graves.

All of the above is just part of life. And those folks do park their cars and get their coffees and do al the things that one "normally" does.

I'm from a very "old", very Southern family...so, none of this seems strange or odd or "weird" or disjunctive to me. I've long ago gathered that most Americans are different. I'll bet a shiny red apple that this is somehow connected to the fact that so many American s will also express dismay or shock at the revelation that they're about to buy a house "That somebody DIED in!!!!!!".

Oh well, I wouldn't be the first to have noticed that American are, as a whole and certainly since the 1940's or so, particularly keen on cultivating and maintaining quite distinct boundaries between the sacred/daily life, supposedly "private" and public life, etcetera.

Oh....and just for the record? I spend a lot of my days in France, and no one has ever said that he/she assumed I was a wonderfully enlightened American. They ALWAYS assume that I'm German or Dutch, for reasons I've never bothered to investigate. Go figure.....

thanks for your evocative posting.


David Terry

Claudia Juestel said...

I have had the pleasure of visiting India twice, and I cannot wait to go back. I so enjoyed reviewing your journey Dominique.

I think I have a little Ganesh addiction. :) Are four removers of obstacles too many?