USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘prayer’
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Give Us Lord, Our Daily Bread

God is good, God is great, let us thank him for our food, by his hands we all are fed, give us lord our daily bread.

My dad first heard this from my uncle’s wife, and has instilled this into our family gathering meals. This “makes us think about where our food comes from and to be grateful for it. To the sink for until remind us that we have food on our plates and we are able to sustain ourselves based on our fortune. I think it is especially important to note that my dad and uncle adopted this tradition for my aunt’s family, who had been practicing it for many years before.  When analyzing each part of this prayer, God is great is acknowledging God’s power. God is good, is supposed to imply that God is looking out for each individual and acts on our behalf, for our own good. Let Us Thank Him, is showing praise and thanks to a higher being for the deeds that have been done in life. For Our Food is quite literal. It refers to the creation of our food throughout the entire process. Whenever we visit everybody in the room and extended family knows this saying. It is important to acknowledge a simple saying, that also rhymes and takes less than a minute to say. It is also a great way to break The ice and pave the way for great conversations.

 

Foodways
Material

Panchamrutham Recipe

  1. The main piece: Panchamrutham Recipe

“I make panchamrutham for puja [Hindu prayer]. It’s a sacred offering for God. So panch means 5, amrutham means nectar [in Sanskrit]. Five different things put together to make this nectar. So you put cow’s milk, yogurt, sugar, honey, clarified butter or ghee, and this is supposed to be the sacred offering to God.

“It is made in a silver bowl. And, uh, this is supposed to be…how do they say? Theertham. God’s deity…you pour this panchamrutham over God’s deity, then pour it back into the silver bowl. Like you take a plate, put a small deity of God, then pour this panchamrutham. Then you pour it back in the bowl, and it becomes the…the sacred nectar for us. And you do it for special occasions. Special pujas. You don’t just do it every day. So for us, coconut water is sacred, and this is even more sacred.

“You have to take shower in the morning, and then make it. And usually, you don’t eat any meals before the puja. After the prayer, you have this panchamrutham first, before you break the fast.”

  1. Background information about the performance from the informant: why do they know or like this piece? Where/who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them? Context of the performance?

“I learned it from my mother? Everyone does it for prayer.”

  1. Finally, your thoughts about the piece

This recipe requires very much attention to specific details, and the informant was keen on mentioning that it is not an everyday recipe—it is only for very special pujas, or Hindu prayer sessions. The high specificity of preparations for making Panchamrutham show how important it is in the Hindu religion—it literally symbolizes the nectar of God. All of the preparations, therefore, are symbolic attempts to purify oneself as much as possible before creating something that will come into contact with God. The name itself shows that Panchamrutham is not a fancy recipe found in a cookbook—it has been passed down for thousands of years, and is known for being composed of five simple materials that have been prevalent in Indian cooking for all those years.

  1. Informant Details

The informant is a middle-aged Indian-American female. She was born in India and grew up with her two sisters in a small town near a holy river in Andhra Pradesh, the Godavari River. After moving to the United States and raising her children there, she enjoyed reminiscing on her childhood in India and sharing stories of it with her children, so that they could see the differences in their upbringings and learn about their Indian heritage.

Customs
Foodways
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Yiddish Prayer for the Dead

The following is a prayer, the traditional Jewish prayer for the dead, as given by my godfather on the birthday of my late brother.

 

As he explained, the prayer is usually reserved for the day of the deceased’s passing. However, given that my late brother’s passing came only two weeks after his birthday, and the fact that my godfather and I would not be able to see each other on that date, he opted for conducting the prayer on the birthday night instead.

 

The same prayer was given a number of weeks the year prior after my brother’s actual passing. Although my godfather gave the prayer in the presence of his own family on that day, he repeated it during a visit on my behalf.

 

Given before seating at dinner, the prayer is repeated each consecutive year onward. However, it is reserved for kin, not given for friends and familiar faces.

 

Standing at the dinner table with our food before us, my godfather proceeded to recite the prayer (from memory), in its original Yiddish, which is also his first language:

 

Yitgaddal veyitqaddash shmeh rabba. Be’alma di vra khir’uteh. Veyamlikh malkhuteh, behayekhon uvyomekhon uvhaye dekhol bet Yisrael, be’agala uvizman qariv. Ve’imru: Amen.

 

Yehe shmeh rabba mevarakh le’alam ul’alme ‘almaya.

 

Yitbarakh veyishtabbah veyitpaar veyitromam veyitnasse veyithaddar veyit’alleh veyithallal shmeh dequdsha berikh hu. Le’ella min kol birkhata veshiratea tushbehata venehemata daamiran be’alma. Ve’imru: Amen.

 

Titqabbal tzelotehon uva’utehon d’khol bet Yisrael qodam avuhon di bishmayya. Ve’imru: Amen.

 

Yehe shelama rabba min shemayya, vehayyim ‘alainu v’al kol Yisrael. Ve’imru: Amen.

 

O’she shalom bimromav, hu ya’ase shalom ‘alenu, v’al kol Yisra’el. Ve’imru: Amen.

 

After this point, he took out a small candle and lit it, explaining that after the prayer, the candle is allowed to burn for 24 hours, and then extinguished.

 

The candle was then set in the center of the dining table. However, he explained, tradition does not call for the candle to be placed anywhere in particular. Given that the prayer is said before seating for the dinner meal, it is most often placed among where the meal is being eaten as a matter of simple convenience.

 

Following the recitation of the prayer and the lighting of the candle, we sat and ate.

At the same time next year, it will be done once more.

 

The English translation of the prayer has been included:

 

Exalted and hallowed be His great Name.

 

Throughout the world which He has created according to His Will. May He establish His kingship, bring forth His redemption and hasten the coming of His Moshiach.

 

In your lifetime and in your days and in the lifetime of the entire House of Israel, sword, famine and death shall cease from us and from the entire Jewish nation, speedily and soon, and say, Amen.

 

May His great Name be blessed forever and to all eternity. Blessed and praised, glorified, exalted, and extolled, honored, adored and lauded be the Name of the Holy One, blessed be He.

 

Beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world, and say, Amen.

 

Upon Israel, and upon our sages, and upon their disciples, and upon all the disciples of their disciples, and upon all those who occupy themselves with the Torah, here or in any other place, upon them and upon you, may there be abundant peace, grace, kindness, compassion, long life, ample sustenance and deliverance, from their Father in heaven; and say, Amen.

 

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and a good life for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

 

He who makes peace in His heavens, may He make peace for us and for all Israel, and say, Amen.”

 

 

What is interesting to note about the prayer itself is that it does not acknowledge the dead at all and is instead entirely an exaltation towards God. The significance of the prayer is undeniable given its exclusive reservation for family members, but to not mention death at all might prompt a double glance.

 

My uncle explained this as an almost humorous consideration, but elaborated that the absence of mentioning death in a prayer whose very purpose centers on it is that remembrance is almost implied, and that a reminder of the person’s passing is not necessary. I found it noteworthy, then, that the traditional prayer for the dead draws the entirety of its significance in the symbolism of its name and subsequent use, with the actual components of the prayer itself important to a lesser degree.

 

A topic that is often joked upon between my godfather and me is the fact that I am an Episcopalian Christian, and he a Russian Orthodox Jew. It is interesting to consider, then that such a highly specialized and ritualistic prayer may be conducted between members of two religions with a distinct barrier between them. In this case, circumstances of love supersede those of preconceived notions of theological leanings.

Customs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Bible Study Prayer

Each Wednesday, I meet with a small group of fellow university students for a peer-led Bible study at the USC Catholic Center. Each week has a similar layout in terms of procedure, although in this particular meeting, the primary topic was centered and prayer for the recent passing of a close friend and classmate. Because her death greatly affected many of my fellow classmates (and needless to say, her family, who I also knew), much of the prayers given were subsequently aimed in consideration of these others.

 

The following frames the course of a typical Bible-study meeting procedure, although in the case of an exceptional incident:

 

The same eight members of the study meet in the same room, a quiet second-floor conference area, each week beginning at 6:50 p.m., and lasting for around 45 minutes to an hour. Our study’s leader, Javier, had brought me into the group the preceding year. He starts the session having already brought a dealing of snack foods (Oreos, chips & dip, etc.), seating the members around a circular table.

 

The meeting is formally started with the members bowing their heads, crossing their hearts, and reciting in unison the ‘Hail Mary’ traditional catholic prayer, which goes as follows:

 

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

 

Each member then goes one-by-one relaying their personal ‘highs and lows’ since the last meeting, followed by an ‘coming to God moment,’ meant to illustrate an incidence or realization of spirituality and faith.

 

At this point in the meeting, the leader then transitions to a pre-selected lesson, involving the reading of a particular passage of scripture that exemplifies the day’s lesson, followed by a group discussion of what in the passage stood out during the reading, what conclusions they have drawn, or otherwise. This day’s topic involved a passage from the book of Philippians (2: 5-8),  that highlights the humbled passage of Jesus through the realm of man by taking on the form of a man himself.

 

Two smaller, supplementary readings are typically held that reinforce the day’s lesson. However, the leader took the opportunity to discuss the topic of my passed friend, which I had disclosed to him earlier. The group then held a loose discussion of life and death from their various points of view.

 

Each meeting is subsequently closed with an extended prayer from the leader himself. He took the opportunity to center it exclusively on the topic of the passed friend.

 

While the circumstances did not figure appropriate to record the prayer in its entirety, the leader’s points of acknowledgment and hearkening to God included my own emotional health, that of the deceased parents and her friends/classmates at school, as well as for potential victims of suicide (given that these were the circumstances under which she passed).

 

Perhaps the most important aspect of this particular meeting to analyze is the adaptation of a group’s normal schedule to briefly accommodate and address a member’s trying circumstances. In this case, it was to provide a sense of comfort and counsel by means of spirituality, along with the personalization of holding it among people familiar with each other.

 

The leader’s extended prayer stood out to me the most, for unlike the established prayer recited at the start of each meeting, this prayer was devised entirely in the moment, lasting for a total of five uninterrupted minutes devoid of ‘ums’ or silences in thought.

 

A small, but important point that can also be acknowledged in the general scheme of the meetings is the inclusion of snacks as an attracting factor. By providing food, the study leader is able to provide an incentive for members to arrive and enjoy treats, but also to keep hands and minds from wandering or growing idle during/in between each topic of study.

Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
general
Homeopathic
Magic
Protection

I Pray The Lord My Soul To Take

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep, if I die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take.

This is a prayer that my parents always taught me every night before I went to sleep. As the saying goes, if you were to die in the night, to give your soul to the universe. There is no implicit rule or distinction that you’re sore should go to God, but more of a higher being of some sort. It was first heard from my father’s grandmother, and most children are scared of the dark, she told him this prayer to reassure him that everything would be okay.  My parents instilled they’re saying into my brothers and my brain from as young as I can remember I could speak. It gave me the certainty that no matter what happens if I woke up in the morning I would be happy that I didn’t die.God is this omnipotent great thing, and asking God to watch over before I fall asleep, and take my soul if I pass. You never know what will happen, and send positive energy to the universe.

 

Customs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Prayer for Prosperity

Every year before Diwali, the informant’s father, M, conducts a tradition where he honors the goddess Lakshmi for the wealth and prosperity that he has received throughout the year. The tradition is at once meant to thank her for past blessings and to ask for for more as the next year approaches. The tradition demands that some money be laid out purely as offering to the Lakshmi and can not be touched for the entire year. A book of prayers is also read from. The image attached depicts a standard setup for such a tradition.

 

 

Screenshot_20170426-222401

 

 

My thoughts: The interviewer used to take part in this ceremony and remembers it as a very regimented tradition. Certain rules must be followed at all times, and the marking of money to be set aside for the goddess is strict in kind and in variety.

Folk Beliefs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

How Do We Sleep At Night?

In the Hindu religion, prayers are an extremely integral aspect to daily life. Hindu people attribute every organic substance as an embodiment of God, and as such, we should give thanks as much as we can. The informant, D, asked his religious father, M, about a set of prayers he remembers having to memorize as a child but since then has forgotten. These three prayers are some of the most central to the daily prayers a devout Hindu can practice, called the Trikal Sandhya. These three prayers seek to answer why we wake up in the morning, how we digest food, and how we sleep at night.

 

This particular entry seeks to answer how we sleep at night:

 

Original:

Krushnaya Vasudevaya Haraye paramatmane. Pranat klesh nashaya Govindaya namo namah

Kara charan krutam vak-kayajam karmajam va shravana nayanajam va, manasam va aparadhum vihitas avihitamva me tat kshamasva jaya jaya karunabdhe shree Mahadeva Shambho

Tvameva mata cha pita tvameva. Tvameva bandhus cha sakha tvameva. Tvameva vidya dravinam tvameva. Tvameva sarvam mama deva deva.

Translated:

I bow and pray Lord Krishna, son of Vasudeva, who takes away sorrows, sufferings, pain and troubles.

O! Benevolent Mahadev; please, forgive me if I did anything wrong, knowingly or unknowingly, by hands, by legs, by speech, by body, by working, by ears, by eyes or by mind. Let be Your victory.

O! God! You are my mother, You are my father, You are my brother, You are my friend, You are my knowledge, You are my wealth, You are everything to me.

My thoughts: While I am not especially religious anymore, I can appreciate the mindset behind these prayers. Hindus see that the act of getting sleep and restoring energy is a God-sent process.

 

Folk Beliefs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

How Do We Digest Food?

In the Hindu religion, prayers are an extremely integral aspect to daily life. Hindu people attribute every organic substance as an embodiment of God, and as such, we should give thanks as much as we can. The informant, D, asked his religious father, M, about a set of prayers he remembers having to memorize as a child but since then has forgotten. These three prayers are some of the most central to the daily prayers a devout Hindu can practice, called the Trikal Sandhya. These three prayers seek to answer why we wake up in the morning, how we digest food, and how we sleep at night.

 

This particular entry seeks to answer how we digest food:

 

Original:

Yagna shishtha shinah santo, muchyante sarva kilbishaihi. Bhunjate te tvagam papa, ye pachantyatma kernat.

Yat koroshi yadashnashi, yaj juhoshi dadasi yat. Yat tapasyasi Kaunteya, tat kurushva madarpanam.

Aham vaishvanaro bhutva, praninam deham ashritah prana pana samayukta, pachamy annam chaturvidham

Om saha navavatu, saha nau bhunaktu. Saha viryam karvavahai, tejasvi navadim astu ma vidvisha vahai, Om shantih, shantih shantih

 

Translated:

The devotees of God are freed from all sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice, Others who prepare or cook food for their personal enjoyment only, truly eat sin

O! Kaunteya (Arjuna); whatever you do, whatever you eat, offer as a sacrifice. Whatever austerity you perform, do it as an offering to me.

Lord Krishna said in Bhagvad Geeta: “I am the fire of digestion in every living body. I am the sir of life, out going and incoming, by which I digest four kinds of food.

Om, Oh! Lord, protech and defend both of us together. We should stay together and do God’s work together. Let our knowledge shine and become divine in the world. We should never fight with each other, never get envious of each other and stay united forever.

 

My thoughts: While I am not especially religious anymore, I can appreciate the mindset behind these prayers. Hindus see that obtaining nutrition from food is essential to life, and due to that, it is easily attributable to God.

 

Rituals, festivals, holidays

Why Do We Wake Up in the Morning?

In the Hindu religion, prayers are an extremely integral aspect to daily life. Hindu people attribute every organic substance as an embodiment of God, and as such, we should give thanks as much as we can. The informant, D, asked his religious father, M, about a set of prayers he remembers having to memorize as a child but since then has forgotten. These three prayers are some of the most central to the daily prayers a devout Hindu can practice, called the Trikal Sandhya. These three prayers seek to answer why we wake up in the morning, how we digest food, and how we sleep at night.

 

This particular entry seeks to answer why we wake up in the morning.

Original:

Karagre vasate laxmi, karmoole Sarasvati. Kara-madhye tu Govindah, prabhate kara darshanam.

Samudra vasane devi, parvata stana-mandle. Vishnu patni namas tubhyam, pada sparsha kshamasvame

Vasudeva sutam devam, Kansa Chanur mardanam Devaki paramanandam, Krishnam vande jagadgurum

Translated:

Goddess of wealth Laxmi resides at the top of palm, Goddess of knowledge Saraswati resides at the bottom of palm and Lord Krishna (Govind) resides at middle of palm and that is why we must look at our palm every morning.

O! Mother Earth, who has ocean as her clothes, mountains and forests as her body, who is the wife of Lord Krishna (Vishnu) I bow to you. Please, forgive me as my feet are going to touch you.

I salute Lord Krishna, the world teacher, the son of Vasudeva, the destroyer of Kansa and Chanura, the supreme bliss of Devai.

 

My thoughts: While I am not especially religious anymore, I can appreciate the mindset behind these prayers. Hindus see that they must treat the Earth as if we are its guest, and this prayer intends to thank God for letting us step on his creation.

 

Rituals, festivals, holidays

St. Anthony’s Good Luck

Informant:

Dina is a college freshman from Northern California, she comes from a large yet close knit Italian family.

Piece:

“So…. I am very forgetful person and when i was little, my mom and grandma used to tell me to say a prayer to St. Anthony whenever I lost something so that I could find it. And I’d be “like what do I say to St. Anthony” and they would say “well say dear St. Anthony please help me find whatever it is that you can’t find.” And I would say a little prayer and I would look really hard and I would find something and then they would tell me “well you have to remember to thank St. Anthony.” So I would say “thank you st. Anthony.” And then I would always attribute it to St. Anthony that I found my missing item thinking he was the reason I found my missing item. As I got older I began to do it myself without praying to him.

Collector’s thoughts:

The informant performed this piece in an apologetic fashion, seemingly embarrassed to admit that she had done this. To her, the praying to St. Anthony was not so much of a religious performance, but rather as a way to find a physical thing that had been lost.

 

 

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