Saturday, October 30, 2010

Churches in America

This Saturday, I took an early morning bus ride uptown. It was a 5 mile ride, straight on one road. The sheer number of churches that I saw surprised me. The number of churches I saw much have been more than the number of stops the bus stopped at. Even though I come from a country where every tree and every stone bigger than your fist is a temple, it surprised me to see so many places of worship in this country. Perhaps that was because every church was a full fledged building, often with a garden etc. Big temples in India aren’t many. Usually we just have a ton of little ones.

There are other differences between churches and temples. Temples are often of ritual importance. It is enough for you to just have visited the temple and sighted the idol. Sure, participating in the arti or getting the prasad are bonuses but aren’t done all the time. Usually you’re just in and out of a temple. Second, particular temples are important. Visiting your neighborhood shrine isn’t the same as visiting Jagannath Puri.

Churches on the other hand are not only places of worship but also community centers. They are places to meet people, eat, sing, dance, have fun – themed around religion of course. One usually finds a church that’s nearby and has views that fit with one’s personal morality. And goes goes there to make friends. This community aspect of churches is what fascinates me most. Hindus may find such community at a satsang or during ganpati, but not really at temples. No wonder churches bind this nation the way they do.

1 comment:

  1. Any more community bonding and significant chunks of our population would die of mass asphyxia.