“Go on your knees, bend low and touch your forehead against the floor’’. No, it’s not a yoga exercise. Get up! Well, these were the words my mother told me to my 5 year old self, standing in front of a large marble statue. And so, this was my first encounter with ‘religion’ and the baggage of rituals and practices it carries. I didn't quite understand it back then and guess what, after several years, I still fail to gauge the reason for the hype it creates.
" Sshh!, ssh! , don’t talk about religion", Oh! It’s a sensitive topic, people have their emotions attached to it, and they get offended. Don’t go there; you’re inviting trouble, it’s a forbidden zone. I can hear all those words of caution as I write. However, if it is so central to human population around the world, then it most definitely is worthy of discussion both spoken and written, especially because we have so many conflicting views on it. Having lived my life so far, I can safely say that, religion is powerful and damn we care about it a lot more than we should be doing.
What is religion?, is it about going to the temple or any other place of religious service twice a week, is it about observing fasts in an attempt to earn brownie points from the almighty , is it about making sacrifices, eating or not eating a certain dish on certain days of the week?. Fundamentally speaking, is it liberating and empowering or stiffening, imposing and draconian? And, if it is just about following such traditions and rituals, where do the so-called passionate devotees find themselves in the competition of who does a better job at ‘impressing their own brand of almighty’, if I may say so. These questions loom large in the corners of my mind and they remain up in the air. We all talk about ‘freedom of religion’ but what about freedom within a religion. It’s weird and unsettling when one realizes, how people around the world go about fighting for their religion, their god, their religious beliefs and sentiments whilst performing all those rituals without even realizing the foremost basis of its existence or the purpose it holds. Spirituality or conformity, I’m not too sure. Moreover, doesn’t spirituality, and your sacred relationship with the supreme power, if you have any, get muddled up in this, ‘godless religion’? Further, the superstitions and ever growing commercialism of religion and following its various associated deeds just adds to the distress and frustration. By way of donating, oh so expensive chains, statues, money and other ornaments to self proclaimed, self styled god men and other so called defenders of religion, what is it that we’re exactly trying to prove? And to whom?
But, yes I get it; we all need a rooting, a sense of belonging, and a coping mechanism to get through the grinds of life. An existence, on which we can throw, blame and pray away, for all the mess in our lives. We all do that. However, I still don’t see the prime requirement of performing a hundred billion rituals and being totally up in arms about, ‘your God’ and ‘my God’ to make our lives better. Come on! as if going through this strange circus called life isn’t enough already. In my opinion, religion is private, your faith and how you preach is a decision, only you should make. While I agree, your family introduces you to religion and ‘God’, to believe and how, or not to, at all, is a decision you are to make. No one should dictate and hammer their beliefs and conviction in you, just because you were born under a certain religion. Teaching your children about ‘their religion’ is reasonable, but let everyone figure out their own, exclusive belief system.