Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Kauai's Hindu Monastery
The last day of the trip we visited Kauai's Hindu Monastery. We were lucky to be able to attend one of the daily Puja ceremonies. It was a feast for the eyes, ears, and nose (oh, and mouth -there was milk too!). Although I did not know the significance of all the rituals I did particularly like one of them. Part of the ceremony involved writing a prayer, concern, wish or something you want to let go of on a piece of paper. Then during the ceremony the monk placed all the prayers in a burning bowl and they were burned and released to the gods. I loved this act of letting go.
The grounds of the monastery are amazingly beautiful. Not only are there incredible statues of Hindu gods tucked around the property, but there are enormous banyan trees wider than my whole house that you can walk through.
The banyan tree in the photo below is an amazing being. It felt like I was walking through a forest but I think it was one enormous tree. I felt enclosed... like if I closed my eyes and sat still the long branches might slowly embrace me. The tree reminded me of the strangler figs in Costa Rica. Those figs start growing as a small seed in the host trees canopy. They then send their roots down the host tree while also growing upwards. The roots growing down slowly engulf the host tree. Sometimes the host tree dies and the only thing left is a fig tree with a hollow central core. That empty space can then provide a home to other species. Although some might not love the idea of being "strangled" I think the life history of the fig is a reminder of the benefit and beauty of emptiness.
OK, enough of my zen allusions. But if you are ever in Kauai it is well worth the trip to visit the monastery and the trees regardless of your religious affiliation. Plus if you walk four times around Lord Shanmuga, six-faced Murugan, he might hear your prayer.