There’s a popular Greek song that I’ve heard over and over again– as you probably ave too if you listen to Greek music. It goes “Pote Voudas, Pote Koudas… Pote O Isous kai Ioudas” and it casually translates to “Sometimes its Buddha, sometimes its Koudas*… Sometimes it’s Jesus and Judas…”
(*Giorgos Koudas is a Greek soccer god)
I never knew what the song actually meant– until yesterday, when I stumbled upon a Buddhist outdoor temple in Bangkok, Thailand, with hundreds of believers approaching the beautifully adorned gold statue and participating in beautiful rituals.
As I sat and watched what was going on, it hit me. I was amazed at just how similar we are… How similar two completely different faiths and philosophies from opposite parts of the world and completely different roots.
The beautiful golden Buddha could very well have been an icon (eikona) of St. Demetrios (who we celebrate today) or a statue of the Virgin Mary, the way the Catholics display during their festivals. It could have been any feast day, or any saint, actually… They way they parade them in Greece, beautifully adorned in flowers.
There was holy water (agiasmo)… And people praying (proseuxi), lighting candles (kandilia)… And the scent of sweet incense (livani) everywhere… There were people kneeling (proskinima), making offerings (tamata)… and the Buddha was covered in flowers (louloudia).
But this was Buddha… Not an Orthodox or Catholic saint… And I’m an entire world away, in Thailand. Shocking (in a beautiful way) how similar we are… I wonder if we even know it. Here’s to the late Nikos Papazoglou who reminded us that it could be Buddha or Koudas… or Jesus and Judas.
Rest in peace Nikos Papazoglou. Here’s a great version of him singing the song live on Greek TV.