Every morning I pay my respects to the universal divine at a small altar in our home. It started with the brass Om from my student days. I purchased the Om along with a booklet of Swami Vivekananda’s lectures, at a road-side stall in Kanya Kumari. Reading Vivekananda’s 1893 lecture to the World Congress of Religions in Chicago, was a pivotal moment in my life. It sparked self-realization and kindled a life long journey of self discovery. This Om graces the top of my home shrine.
As I left home to start my studies, my mother gave me the framed photograph of our kuladevata, Shanteri Kamakshi Ramnath, our family deity in Goa. A tulsi bead rosary is wrapped around the frame. On either side of the frame are antique figurines holding lamps. To the right is a silver 'throne' with two Ganapati murthis and a Lakshmi. To the left is a baby Krishna crawling on both his knees and one hand; the right hand is raised.
On the lower shelf is a sandal wood murthy of Udupi Shri Krishna in a wooden mandap. Three silver medallions with beautifully engraved facsimiles of Venkatesha, Satya Narayana and Sudarshan – memories of the spirituality at the Balaji Temple in Pittsburgh. The round silver ball to the left has a delicately carved peacock on top, and twists open to store vermilion. Silver dabbas on each end contain vibhuti. Hanging off the frame is a Swiss cowbell, with a ring reminiscent of temples bells.
The wood stand is from the Bombay store. The rabbit-motif backdrop was left over from the previous owners.
Below the stand is a cedar chest on which I light a small oil lamp every morning. Then I say a small prayer, thanking him 'the knower of all' for all the good that I have been blessed with, recollect the challenges of the day, and ask for her guidance. I pray for wisdom for all in our extended family, so we can carry out our destiny with our heads held high. And then I lower my head to the floor in namaskar.