The Mandir and the Murti

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Every month has a full moon. Rare ones have two. Four days after every full moon I do the same thing: vrat & abhishekam.

Vrat means fast – Not the “speedy” kind of fast, the abstaining from food kind. On the fourth day after Purnima (the full moon) a fast is held all day, as one’s circumstances allow. Sometimes I’ll fudge things a little, depending on what I have planned, and will have fluids like juice or something. Otherwise the vrat is meant to last the duration of the day – until the moon is first sighted that evening. Then puja (church for Hindus, technically a ritual) is performed and the fast is broken with dinner.

For me, that evening’s puja usually involves abhishekam or snan for the mahamurti in my home mandir. Abhishekam and snan are virtually the same thing, but for me they hold slightly different implications. In my brain, abhishekam is deeper and prolonged and more complex. It happens regularly but doesn’t happen as often. In my understanding, abhishekam translates as “ritual bathing,” including the panchamrit (“five nectars”) and snan feels more like a simple “bath” and while it also happens regularly, it happens more frequently as a part of puja and is generally simpler.

For the biggest chunk of four weeks’ time, every morning and evening when I’m at home in my temple room doing puja I can feel a sort of “building” or compilation. There feels like an increased energy every additional time I’m before the mandir and the murti. (A similar phenomenon occurs during other sadhanas like japa. That’s for another post.) Then the full moon arrives (purnima, remember?) and it feels like a crescendo of sorts. For the three days immediately following purnima, pujas are still held as well as regular sadhanas, but the “vibe” of those three days is noticeably… softer. Then comes Sankashti.

The fourth day after every full moon/purnima is called Ganesha Sankashti Chaturthi. A simple internet search on those words will inform you plenty. You can get some information here or there. Everyone can benefit from fasting on the fourth day after a full moon. Depending on the source you’re maybe reading, the benefits might vary some. At any rate, those benefits are likely to be something anyone’d enjoy.

Depending on which day Sankashti Chaturthi falls on, it might have more or less significance. I understand it to be particularly auspicious for this day to land on a Tuesday. During the current four-week period, Sankashti happens to land on Easter Sunday.

I’m obviously not Christian. And I have particular feelings about the “theft” that was involved, historically speaking, in the “Christian” holiday of Easter. However, within the context of Easter/Ostara, I find additional value to this Sankashti. Christian or not, Ostara/Easter is about renewal (not the same as rebirth, which is as much a curse as a blessing). The middle of last week brought the Hindu holiday of Holi which has parallel meanings. We’ve survived the darkest time of the year. Daylight each day is visibly growing and we can feel our own energies growing with it. All of that, added to the energetic context mentioned earlier about the monthly cycle experienced in the daily pujas conducted, and this Sakashti is loaded with goodness.

Whether you see tomorrow as a celebration of your guru’s victory over the death-tool that is the cross, or if you decorate eggs and worship fertility as found in rabbits, or if you’re a devotee of Ganapati wrapping up another four week cycle … in fact whether you’re all or none of these …enjoy the day for what it means to you, allow yourself to do some cleansing – of your home or your soul – and set yourself up to look forward to the next immediate cycle in your life.

Jai Ganapati!

Om Shanti

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Rama Nama

(This post was drafted a short time ago. I’m only just now getting around to posting it)

I cant think of a better place to be bloggering from… sitting in padmasana, in the center of my temple’s main worship hall, “front and center” so to speak, and only about 15ft from my temple’s maha-murtis and the surrounding smaller murtis.

The first 90 minutes of service is always recitation of various shlokas and verses from Bhagavad Gita, followed by dhuns and then a discourse before aarti.

I should have my phone put away, but as I sit here before large murtis of Sri Radhakrishna, Lord Shiva chose to bless me with a visit, and I wanted to share.

A few minutes ago I happened to look down at my hands as they were cupped in my lap.

I showered before coming and since it’s winter, part of my (seasonal) post-bathing ritual includes adding ayurvedic oil to my face lotion & body lotion. This suppliment is usually too heavy for summertime use, but does wonders for extra dryness brought by winter.

So here sits me, glancing at my hands. Despite my best ayurvedic efforts, dry skin haunts me and few things contribute to an aging appearance like the condition of one’s skin. Alas, my hands are dry.

Looking at my tragically dry hands I’m seeing signs of age. Don’t get me wrong- my hands don’t look old or anything. In fact,  generally speaking, the consensus seems to be that I look quite a bit younger than my actual age. But still, change is happening to my earthly body.

And I love it. Well, mostly. Don’t let me fool you – if I could have a youthful body forever,  I certainly would. But there’s something blissful about watching the slow ruin of my physical self.

The eventual demise I’m already seeing head my way is simply a sign of the times. I mean that literally. Times gone by cling to the fine but definite wrinkles I’m beginning to see. They’re gentle reminders of who & where I once was. And seeing the onset of age likewise reminds me of times to come – that I’m forever “becoming.” Believe it or not this brings me peace.

Only Brahman is perennially self-sustaining. All else is subject dissolution. This is no cause for fear – it only means you’re getting closer to The Goal. My sincerest wish is that you enjoy your journey- wrinkles and all- and that you do your best to accept who you were and who you’re becoming.

All the grace that is mine to give, I gladly offer to those of you on your way.

Om shanti

Dem Bones

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About a week ago I thought I had my entire weekend planned out. I was to work all day Saturday. That evening would mean adult beverages and color hard-baked eggs festively. The following day, Sunday, was meant to be spent in Ohio at Ikea with only my beloved as we took our time wandering the immense place and gathered a handful of new display cases for his Masters of the Universe collection and my collection of Ganesha murtis.

Mother nature had other plans, though, and those plans included dumping a bunch of snow. Everywhere I looked and every new person I asked gave me a different answer as to the ETA of said snow storm. Hoping to play things safe rather than sorry, we postponed the egg coloring and moved up the Ikea trip. It was all the same, I suppose. And even better, it meant my best had his first trip to Ikea.

We get to Ohio that night and, with less time than we preferred, we made our rounds and got in line at the check out.

The crowds at Ikea are typically very mixed. I suppose Ikea has something for everyone. I recall noticing an unusually large percentage of Indians. Wearing a bright red t-shirt with nothing but a nice white Om on the front center, and with dharma tattoos visible, I assumed I’d catch some attention while we wandered Ikea’s acreage. But I didn’t really… until we reached the checkout.

Before us in the line were a small Indian man, only slightly older than myself and two female companions. We had been standing behind them for some time (the line was moving VERY slowly) before they actually noticed me. Then, the man turned around and began questioning me.

He asked about my Om shirt. He asked about the Om Purnam ink I have on my left wrist and the abstract Ganesha ink on my right forearm. He kept saying things to me as he questioned me and my response was always either, “I know” or to basically finish his sentences with the point he was assuming I didn’t already know.

I’ve said it before, and I suppose I’ll say it a million more times before this life is extinguished: Not all Hindus have brown/olive skin.

Everything this guy asked me or started to point out I explained I already knew. Eventually, he said something like, “In the fall we have a Ganesha holiday. It’s called Ganesh-”

And I cut him off, “Chaturthi. I KNOW.” I followed that with a very casual, but slightly annoyed, “I’m Hindu, too.”

His response? “No.”

I could feel my face reddening and my eyebrows being drawn toward the third eye. “What?” he asked soon after. As patiently as I could I explained, “I know those things already, sir. I’m also Hindu.” He virtually ignored what I’d just said and began to ask about the leg tattoo I’d referenced during his earlier questioning of me. To this, I turned slightly and exposed my calf where my newest Ganesha ink is located. He nodded (mind you, to the Western eye this nod is more of a bobble), flatly told me I could only have tattoos of gods on my arms, and then simply turned around and said not another word to me.

Me = floored.

Earlier today I messaged an Indian bahin (sister) that I have in Atlanta. She’s very very dear to me and my life has certainly been better since knowing her. In my message I asked her what that bit about my leg tattoo was all about. She explained that he wasn’t necessarily trying to be mean (I’m not sure I’m convinced) and that it IS generally frowned upon to have a god inked onto your leg – because the legs is connected to the foot and the foot is “dirty.” Knowing what I know about Hindu “protocol,” this sounds about right. My bahin wouldn’t lie to me and I know she wouldn’t say something to hurt my feelings.

But now I also know why religion often has a bad name.

For one, I think this points to an interesting …um, allow me to call it a double standard. It’s not really, but for now I’m calling it that. The feet are “dirty” and yet gurupadapuja is a heart-touching ritual that I, and many Hindus, adore. I understand that there’s an immense element of humility involved in padapuja… The feet are so dirty and the only part of my guru’s body I’m even “fit” to touch are his/her feet. I get it – I get it. But I don’t buy it.

For another, all things are connected and interconnected. I’m reminded of that old children’s song, “Dem Bones.” For your enjoyment, you’ll find the lyrics to that song here. Check it out and you’ll see what I’m getting at.

If my unholy foot can cause my calf to be “soiled,” then by extension my thigh, my hip, my waist and my torso are also unclean simply because “dem bones” are all physiologically connected. And virtually every other part of me branches out from there. Using that math and following that logic, it shouldn’t really matter whether Ganesha sits permanently on my arm or my leg (in my case He’s to be found on both!) because not a single square inch of me is fit to bear an image of god.

And forget the Ganesha on my leg. The “Om Purnam” shloka wraps around my left wrist. Traditionally, the left hand is also a no-no. Does that mean that this is also viewed as disrespectful? Please picture me rolling my eyes and tossing my arms up in resignation. That’s just about where I am by this point.

I once read a book titled, “What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right with America.” (Or something like that) It broke apart the essence of Islam, and also the essence of what America represents. In both cases, culture gets in the way. Islam offers great things to the world, but Arab culture has virtually ruined it. The founding principles of America are what has, since its beginning, made it an incredible world power. And today we see the culture of Americans ruining so much – in our homeland AND abroad. I think I apply the concept of that book to my expression of Dharma.

As a practicing white American Hindu I’m freed from many of the ridiculous, detrimental, and selfish aspects of the typical American lifestyle and culture. And as a practicing white American Hindu I’m simultaneously freed from the proportionate ridiculousness of Indian culture.

I’m never usually for “picking and choosing.” Consistency. Dependability. Predictability. Stability. Those are all super valuable words and concepts that all should strive to implement in their lives. But I also think as we move in life it’s necessary at times to pick and choose. True or not, the Buddha is often quoted as having said, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

To think that God would ever feel disrespected by this particular expression of my bhakti definitely does not agree with my reason or common sense. I understand the cultural/religious background involved… but I simply don’t agree with it. And you can bet I told that man in the Ikea checkout line, too.

I told him with my mouth.

Om Shanti

Varnam

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The Hindu Dharma possesses a concept that, like so many concepts in Islam, has been separated from its origin and twisted by the progression of the local human culture. A huge complication here is that humans tend to be too proud of their cultures and change in a better direction is often unfortunately slow.

However, Indian culture in many (most?) instances sets a great example for other cultures. Like the Hindu religion, Indian culture provides a number of ways of supplementing one’s current path (either religious OR cultural) and the result is virtually always improvement. No joke. Christians who become “a little bit Hindu” are able to strongly maintain their Christian identity, but in the process of becoming “a little bit Hindu” actually become better Christians. This is applicable in a number of contexts. Hinduism is a religion – that is to say, a spiritual way of life. Its immensity and depth is unmatched by other world religions and simultaneously allow one to be a devout Hindu, with his own strong Hindu identity, and for a non-Hindu to develop into a better non-Hindu.

All of that is neither here nor there, though, as far as this post is concerned. The concept I began referring to at the beginning of this piece is that of caste. The modern manifestation of caste is miserable and mean. In India, people are born into one caste or another and usually are trapped therein. Here in the West, an equivalent might be the notion of being born into a family of uneducated janitors and never being allowed to become anything but another uneducated janitor – and not being able to marry or otherwise associate with anyone who isn’t also an uneducated janitor. Sounds lovely, eh? There are varying versions of this that do occur here in the West, also, although a bit more abstractly. People here often bemoan how “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Much of our political system is horribly skewed and often what results is that the rich do get richer and the poor, while they may not actually get poorer, they certainly struggle to become “less poor.”

Of course, one benefit to anyone living in the West is that even if you’re born into a dirt-poor family, many times the biggest obstacle in the path of your life’s betterment is your own resolve and dedication to that betterment. Personal responsibility can’t be overstated in this regard.

Currently, myriad castes are recognized in India, although I think original “Hinduism” recognized just four varnas. These are called Brahmin (also Brahmana)/priests/philosophers/scholars, Kshatriya/military/rulers, Vaishya/merchants/farmers/average workers, and Shudra/servants of the other three varnas. The original idea, as I understand, is that a person has a certain internal makeup that designates them as one of these four “types” of people. Technically speaking, there is a hierarchy to these (I mentioned them in order from “highest” to “lowest”), but one is able to essentially change caste according to his personal developmental evolution or devolution. Of course, as previously mentioned, this system of order has been abused through the millennia and now is a monster that hardly, if ever, fulfills its original intent.

While pondering all this fanciness, for some strange reason, my mind turned to my family. To be clear, I don’t see or speak with much of my family anywhere nearly as often as I’d prefer. Still, if ever my heart experiences a swell of bhakti/devotion, it’s usually in response to thoughts of my family.

And so, thinking of my (immediate) family recently, something dawned on my brains. I’ve mentioned before how crazy and wonderful my parents are. My siblings are no less wonderful. And truth be told, for the purpose of this post, when I refer to siblings I mean only two of the four that I have. (I consider all my siblings to be part of my immediate family, but growing up, only two of them lived in the same household. Two brothers.) What I’ve come to realize is that part of the reason my family kicks as much ass as it does is because of the balance we have.
To speak in terms of varnas, we were far from the Shudra existence, but my parents worked their butts off at jobs that were certainly in the service sector of our culture/society. We’re familiar with starting at the bottom and striving. Around my teen years, we became merchants – now owning a group of jewelry stores. The youngest brother in that household seems neither particularly philosophically inclined nor inclined toward the life of a protector. Surely, he’s happy fitting in with the rest of the family as a Vaishya, as he’s never really been prone to a life too far from “home.” The next sibling up the totem pole (again, just in that household) has, since his childhood, dreamed of becoming Rambo. As soon as he was able, and partly because he had no better choice, he entered into a military existence and seems happy living the life of a Kshatriya. Lastly, yet first in line of said totem pole, is myself. If there’s anyone in my family who’s “deep” or philosophical, it’s me. This is a blessing and a curse. I’m the one who has always been more internal than external. If any of my parents’ progeny would be destined to become a monk, you’re looking at him. (In fact, that’s very nearly happened more than once.)

And so, you see, the entirety of life’s stations can all be found in my family’s wonderful life expressions. We’re just the right amount of crazy, and stern, and normal. Very religious and also very not. Many people love coming to the Jordan house for a visit, and I can’t help but think they subconsciously know that regardless of who’s home they’re likely to find an element of life that is tougher to find in other places. At times this has made our gatherings more interesting than not, but it also – for me – is the source of so many smiles.

Om Shanti

Hypothermically Speaking

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The last two days Facebook has been aglow with all kinds of posts and reposts pertaining to marriage equality. Today, on my way to Goodwill to unload some furniture, I was scanning the feed and saw a repost that I automatically began reading into. You can see it at the head of this post, and if you would I’d ask that you read into it, too.

I asked my beloved about this, and he almost instantly admitted that it was over his head. Truly, he doesn’t know much about different cultures or religions, or their histories or modern expressions.

Not to imply that any of the following is an opinion of mine, allow me to at least share a few passing thoughts that resulted form viewed the repost above on Facebook:

It seems to be a pretty obvious jab at Christianity and it’s current insistence that gay marriage is morally apprehensible. Christians, are in the same religious family as Jews and Muslims. The biblical Abraham was the father of Judaism, which in turn fathered Christianity. Islam is a related “cousin” or something – related, just not as directly. Judaism is something like the second oldest living, organized religion on the globe – only slightly younger than Hinduism. As far as I know Judaism differs from the other two main Abrahamic faiths in that it doesn’t aggressively seek converts. While it seems to do well at holding grudges, it also seems far less oppressive or inclined to force its way of living on others. But – it also views itself a THE group most loved by God, indeed God’s “chosen people,” which is certainly arrogant and exclusive.

It certainly seems detrimental to put you or your people on any kind of pedestal, but perhaps it’s okay to be entirely full of yourself if you don’t force it onto others? Would the world be a better place if the apple hadn’t fallen so far from the tree and Christians were more like Jews? You tell me.

Om Shanti

श्रीगणपत्यथर्वशीर्षोपनिषद्

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In the autumn of last year I received an invite to an exclusive Facebook group for Ganapatya Sampradaya, the focus of which was learning and chanting the Ganapati Atharvashirsha. Despite my background with Ganesha as my ishtadevata, I was unfamiliar with the Atharvashirsha and it seemed auspicious because I had been hoping for a sense of community and also sought deeper knowledge on effective Ganesha puja. The group turned out to offer so much more than guidance on scriptural recitation/chanting. Since then, I’ve become a member of a number of “closed” Facebook groups centering around Ganesha, thanks to the kind facilitator of these (for discretionary reasons I’ll refrain from using his/her name/Facebook identity), and my relationship with the aspect of God wearing the face of Ganesha has gained immense focus. (Please note: My use of the word focus is not meant to imply emphasis. Although in earlier stages this focus did include emphasis, the meaning now is meant to convey single-pointedness.) I’m writing now to share some information about the Atharvashirsha and the Upanishad itself. I still occasionally struggle to correctly pronounce some parts of the prayer and with the correct metre, but it’s been a sweet experience to watch my own progress in this regard and dedication to this effort certainly helps cultivate the right “bhava” during puja.

The following video is a version I keep on my iPod and has been instrumental in helping me learn the Atharvashirsha.

The Atharvashirsha comes to us from the Atharva Veda, one of Hinduism’s founding scriptures and one of humanity’s oldest written works. The Atharvashirsha prayer was written by Rishi Atharvan. He was a privileged soul as the Lord appeared to him. His divine experience led to this prayer.

|| Om Namaste Ganpataye || Tvameva Pratyaksham Tatvamasi || Tvamev Kevalam Kartasi || Tvamev Kevalam Dhartasi || Tvamev Kevlam Hartasi || Tvamev Sarvam Khalvidam Bramhasi || Tvam Sakshad Atmasi Nityam || 1 ||

(O Lord Ganesh, I pay my deep homage to you, the Lord of the Ganas || You are the first facet of the Brahma Tatva to arise || You have created this entire universe ||You can maintain this universe || You are indeed the all conquering supreme Lord || Indeed you are the “Atma” the soul of this cosmos || 1

|| HRTUM VACHMI || SATYAM VACHMI || 2 ||

(Speak the noble fact || Speak the complete truth) || 2 ||

|| Ava tvam Mam || Ava Vaktaram || Ava Shrotaram || Ava Dataram || Ava Dhataram || Avanuchanavamv Shishyam || Ava Paschatat || Ava Purastat || Avo Uttaratat || Ava Dakshinatat || Ava chordhvatat || Ava Dharatat || Sarvatomam Pahi Pahi Samantat || 3 ||

( Protect me || Protect the one who describes you || Protect all who hear about your characteristics || Protect me and the disciples who are under tutelage || Protect me from the obstacles (which arise during rituals) From the east, protect me from the west, north and south || Protect me from above and below || Protect me from all directions) || 3 ||

|| Tvam Vangmayastvam Chinmaya || Tvam Anandmayastvam Bramhamaya || Tvam SachitanandaDvitiyosi ||Tvam Pratyaksham Bramhasi ||Tvam Jnanmayo Vijnanamayosi || 4 ||

(You are the constituent of speech || You are the joy and the immortal consciousness || You are the truth, mind and bliss|| You are none other than divinity || You are the knowledge of all gross & subtle forms) || 4 ||

|| Sarvam Jagadidam Tatvo Jayate || Sarvam Jagadidam Tatvastishthati || Sarvam Jagadidam Tvay Layameshyati || Sarvam Jagadidam Tvayi Pratyeti || Tvam Bhumi Rapo Nalo Nilo Nabha || Tvam Chatvarim Vak Padaini || 5 ||

(The entire universe manifests because of you || You sustain all the universes || All the universes get destroyed in you || All the universes finally get merged into you || You are the earth, water, fire, air and ether || You are the four types of speech and the root source of sound) || 5 |||| Tvam Guna Traya Atitaha: Tvam Avasthatreya Atitaha || Tvam Deha Treya Atitaha || Tvam Kala Treya Atitaha || Tvam Muladhar Stiti Yosi Nityam || Tvam Yogino Dhayayanti Nityam || Tvam Bramha, Tvam Vishnustvam, Rudrastvam, Indrastvam Agnistvam, Vayustvam Suryastvam, Chndramastvam Bramha Bhur Bhuva Svorom || 6 ||

(You are beyond the three gunas, (Sattva-Pure, Rajas-Activity ,Tamas-Dullness) You are beyond three states of being; (awake, dream and deep slumber) || You are beyond the three bodies; (gross, subtle and casual) You are beyond the past, present and future || You are the Lord of the Muladhara Chakra (This is the first chakra which awakens the Kundalini|| Sages always meditate on you || You are the Lord of the three worlds including the elements. You are the all pervading force) || 6 ||

|| Ganadim Purvamuccharaya Varnadim Tada Nantaram || Anusvara Paratarah || Ardhendu Lasitam || Taren Hridam || Etatva Manu Svarupam || Gakarah Purva Rupam || Akaro Madhyam Rupam || Anu Svaraschantya Rupam || Bindu Ruta Rupam || Nadah Sandhanam || Sa Hita Sandhih || Sesha Ganeshvidhya || Ganak Rishi: Nichrud Gayatri chandah || Ganpatir devata ||

||Om ‘GUNG’ Ganpataye Namah || 7 ||

After describing the characteristics and attributes Of Lord Ganesh, Atharvan Rishi gives us the sacred “Ganesh Vidya” i.e. the mantra that reveals the sacred form of Lord Ganesh.

The letter “GA” is to be enunciated, following by “NA” This one word mantra is then potentiated with the “Pranava” “Om”. This is sacred mantra. “Ga” is the first part, “Na” is the middle and the end “Um” formed by the bindu is conjoined with the foregoing and all of them form the sacred word. This mantra if pronounced properly has the power of revealing the Lord. The sage who received the mantra is Ganaka and the verse is “Nichrat Gayatri.” || Om Gung Ganapati || 7 ||

By repeating this mantra, the devotees should bow and surrender to the Lord.

|| Ek Dantaya Vid Mahe vakra Tundaya Dhimahi || Tanno Danti Prachodayat || 8 ||

(Mediate on the single tusked Lord, with the curved trunk || May He grant knowledge and inspire me || This is the Lord Ganesh’s Gayatri.)

|| Ek Dantam Chatur Hastam Pashmam Kusha Dharinam || Radamch Vardam Hastair Bhi Bhranum Mushaka Dhvajam || Raktam Gandhanu Liptangam Rakta Pushpaihi saupujitam || Bhaktanu Kampinam Devam Jagat Karnam Achutam || Avir Bhutam Cha Shrasta Yadao, Prakruthe Purushat Param || Evam Dhayayati Yo Nityam, Sa Yogi Yoginam Varah || 9 ||

(The “saguna” form of Lord Ganesh is presented in the above Shloka. I salute the Lord with one tusk (right side) who has four hands. The upper right one carries a binding rope, the upper left one holds the goad, the lower left one holds a broken tusk and the lower right blesses us. The mouse is His mount or vehicle || His complexion is crimson, He is pot-bellied, His ears are elephant like and He is adorned in red garments || He is smeared with red sandalwood and decorated with red flowers usually hibiscus || He eternally blesses his devotees and has been around long before the existence of the cosmos|| The one who meditates on him constantly is eternally blessed || 9 ||
|| Namo Vrat Pataye, Namo Ganapataye || Namo Pratham patye, Namste Stu Lambodaraya Ekdantaya, Vighna Nashine Shiv Sutaya, Sri Varad Murtiye Namo Namah || 10 ||

(Salutations to you the Lord of all deities, Ganas and all beings ||(Salutations To) the pot-bellied one, single tusked who destroys all obstacles, He is the son of Lord Shiva-The Divine Lord who grants boons. We all bow down to you chanting your name. || 10 ||

Very Full Indeed

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I have a Facebook friend who annoys me frequently. He’s forever posting “red flags” about one thing or another: high levels of metal in our drinking water, the poisons put into our food by the makers of it, various kinds of pollution no one has ever heard of. He’s also posting similarly annoying “good” things like sweet-ass recipes no one’s heard of, interesting facts about our culture, and upcoming events of interest that one might not otherwise know about.

One thing he never neglects to post about, about twenty times a day, is how gay people are faring in political world. I don’t mean gay politicians, although he’ll post about those too. He’s a sentinel of sorts. He’s truly ever watchful. Many times I wish he’d just give it a rest. But I’m glad he doesn’t.

People need to throw a stink about things that aren’t right.

People often have marches or boycott or petition… make real fusses about something they want changed. This is great and is effective. Something also important, though, is simply showing support.

Today was a pretty big day for gays in the USA. If you aren’t sure what I mean, grab any immediate news and fill yourself in. The heat behind the push for marriage equality has built and built, and is finally coming to a boil.

Like boiling water on skin, living as a gay person is often quite painful. Unless you’re good at fulfilling the public’s general expectations of male/female roles, daily life is not just challenging – it’s awkward, and embarrassing, and frustrating. And, quite sadly, sometimes dangerous and deadly. Even gays whose lives are “convenient” enough so as not to have as many worries as their gay brothers/sisters, still face uphill battles just about anywhere they turn. My intention isn’t to turn this post into a “pity the gays” post. Many have said that gay is the new black. I’m not sure I feel this is a great comparison, but it’s truly close enough. Consider black history and the struggle blacks went through for equality – and how blacks STILL often face discrimination. There are many parallels in the modern gay struggle.

Not everyone can march on Washington or otherwise throw a fit about life’s injustices. But everyone can show support for their loved ones, and this is crucial. Even the most confident individual appreciates – needs – support from the people in his life that mean the most to him.

The Facebook app on my phone is spotty, and throughout the day today I wasn’t on much. Then between getting new furniture and making dinner, it was close to 9pm before I even touched the computer. And when I did….

Today was a nice day at the office. It was great to finally have the new living room furniture in place. And at dinner, I literally stuffed myself with good food. And then I sign on to Facebook and for a minimum of fifteen minutes I scrolled my newsfeed in awe.

So much red!

And now, while my heart was full from a good day, and my stomach filled from a yummy dinner, so the same is to be said of my spirit!

My brother posted as long of a status post as I think I’ve ever seen, broadcasting his opinion that support should be shown every day and not just in changing one’s Facebook picture. His own wife did change her picture, and I read in a few different places where she explained to others that she was doing it to show support for her “loved ones.” My step-aunt has been very vocal on Facebook for a few days already about the ridiculousness of this kind of discrimination. My Hindu bahin (sister) in Atlanta took pictures of herself wearing red in support. There were a few instances where I expected to see something and didn’t, but just about everywhere I clicked or scrolled I found that so many “in” my life care for my happiness and the happiness of those like me.

My beloved sat before his computer around the time I did mine. His experience seemed to mirror that of my own and he updated his status with, “I have to say regardless of what effect it truly has, I am very humbled and pleased to see so much red on my friend feed today. It’s good to know there are so many supportive people out there!”

Humbled, indeed! I write to you now with goose bumps, and a heart so full I can feel it in the lump in my throat as I hold back tears.

After spending the last decade of my life with the guy I call my beloved, it’s my sincerest hope that sooner rather than later I’ll be able to legally marry him, and worry less about many things. Regardless of when that day comes, and surely it will, please don’t wait to tell someone you love that you love them, or someone you support that you support them – or even if you just mildly care about someone, tell them.

People need to know it.

Om Shanti