Friday, August 15, 2008

In India, the cell phone is a religious experience

This should probably go on the list of "things you don't know about me" (well, some of you do), but over the millennium I spent a year in India, living in an ashram north of Mumbai.

One thing that I came to understand during that time was how much religion is part of the warp and woof of Indian life. Temples and images are everywhere - even truck drivers and cab drivers have their favorite deities covering their dashboards and painted over the outside of their trucks.

I was having coffee with an Indian friend of mine today, and he told me that another thing that is very popular in India is cell phones, and that these two things have combined in a wonderful and odd sort of way.

He said one of the most popular applications people download onto their cell phones in India is a "daily worship" application. As I understand it, you pick your favorite deity, and each morning when you open your cell phone it pops up an image of your deity, it plays mantras for the deity, and even shows incense waving in front of it.

The thought of this made me smile and laugh. I also found myself filled with love and respect for the way in which spirituality and devotion is anchored into the very core of Indian life.

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