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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

A Day in the Life: Faith and Suffering in South India - Page 4

Written by Thomas Crowley
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We then head to the memorial of a freedom fighter who is, to put it mildly, a bit more famous: Mahatma Gandhi. Like the Vivekananda temple and the Spirituality Center, this memorial is built to reflect the diversity of India, incorporating Hindu, Islamic and Christian architectural elements. We get a brief tour from a stern guide, who barks his memorized English speech with gravity and severity. He warms briefly as my mom thanks him for an informative talk.

 

Our final diversion before reaching the sea: a crowded marketplace full of blinding fluorescent lights, fragrant spices, and 5 and 20 rupee stalls, the Indian equivalent of dollar stores, except that prices range from 12 to 50 cents, respectively). On the other side of the market is darkness, calm and the sound of crashing waves. We take off our shoes and dip our feet into three oceans.

 

In the darkness, we can just make out the Vivekananda memorial. Next to it is a 133-foot statue of Thiruvalluvar, a second century Tamil poet famous for writing a 133-chapter poem. As we put on our footwear, Father Solomon recalls the day that the horrific 2004 tsunami hit Tamil Nadu. The water, he says, was as tall as that statue. He was inland when it happened, but he immediately traveled to one of the most devastated towns. The police stayed away, scared that they’d get dragged out to sea if another wave came, so Father Solomon and other religious leaders took matters into their own hands. They went out into the shallow waters dragging bodies onto the land and helping families identify lost loved ones.

 

As we climb into the car and begin the journey home, Father Solomon’s somber words still echo. In my mind, as I picture priests, swamis and imams joining hands in the face of immense tragedy, I am transported back to the Spirituality Center.

 

Love suffers, love unites.

 

 

Kanyakumari Dusk

© Thomas Crowley

 

 

(Page 4 of 4)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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