Daily rituals serve to remind us to startparticipating in life.

Each day a billion Indians, from poor farmers to Bombay billionaires, rise in the morning and awaken to complicated, chaotic lives. Before they leave their homes, however, they undertake a ritual that has been practiced for generations before them and will likely be followed by those who come after. They fold their hands in prayer, yielding their lives to the universe. Doing so is a recognition that much of their lives is not determined by their own will but by a force greater than themselves.

For many Indians, the day’s travels will also take them to an Indian temple. Indians do not banish chaos at the doors of most holy places—actually, ...

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