Mandirs: Personal Pinnings

Quantum locking, a phenomenon of superconductors trapped within a magnetic field, got thinking about “quantum lockings” that exist in our own lives, forces that keep us rooted to who we are and the person we are becoming. Everyone’s “pinning” is different. The query for my own quantum locking took me numerous decades into my past, back to a childhood memory.  

It was an early morning, full of light. Yet, my seven-year-old eyes remained unwelcoming to the rising sun. “We’re here,” I heard my father say, watching him peer high to the top of the windshield at something outside. When I looked up, I was amazed by what manifested before me. It was marvelous and the most beautiful thing I had ever seen! 

It was so white, like a big cloud in a deep blue sky and it was grand. Its steps welcomed us, beckoning us to come inside. Before going in, my mom explained that removing our shoes was a gesture of dual meaning. It not only helped maintain and respect the sanctity of the place, but also signified the shedding of the world behind, helping us to focus and take in what we were about to experience — the mandir, a Hindu place of worship and the home of God. 

Removing our shoes symbolized leaving worldly concerns behind and preparing our minds for worship. Ringing the ghanti, or bell, cleared our thoughts, creating a clean slate to connect with the divine. Walking towards the inner shrine, the pleasant scent of burning agarbattis surrounded us. These incense sticks were used in Hindu rituals to purify the air and aid concentration during meditation on the murtis, or divine images, of God. Inside the shrine, I learned about darshan – the act of beholding the divine with reverence and adoration. My mother taught me to fold my hands, close my eyes, and communicate with God during this time. After darshan and prostrations, we received prasad – almonds, golden raisins, and sugar crystals offered to the murtis. It symbolized God’s grace and spiritual joy. 

The memory of that first visit to the mandir remains sacred, shaping my identity and connection to God. We have since moved to the United States and settled in the small town of West New York in northern New Jersey. Now, as I frequent the local BAPS Swaminarayan mandirs, I am able to disengage from the busyness and trifles of life. It’s become a place of reset and recalibration — a sanctum that helps expel my relentless ‘fields’ of fears and doubts; and in turn, find serenity and strength. It’s a place where I connect with the divine, and now, I too call home. When I think about all the experiences, people, and things in my life that have helped me to become who I am today and the type of person I wish to still become, I find that the mandir has played an immeasurable role. It has been, and continues to be, my quantum locking. 

Bhavisha Doshi, Civil Engineer, New Jersey 

Image courtesy of Provided

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