It has become fashionable these days to question anything and everything related to beliefs and sentiments of Indians, especially anybody of knowledge or way of living handed to us by our earlier generation. Sadly it’s the Indians who indulge in this activity more than westerners. ‘In this age’…. Wow, I like the phrase, it makes me feel like mortality has been conquered, Planets unknown until recently have been colonized, India has become the richest and the most equitable country in the universe, Elephants and Apes are signing in Opera Houses, Humans have stopped unleashing hell on each other in the name of ideology and men have started giving birth to babies. None of the above have become true and the fact is that this age is not much different from the by-gone ones.
It seems to me that to some us anything that our elders taught us is ritualistic, burdensome and not relevant anymore. Going to a place of worship on an auspicious day…. That’s too ritualistic. Touching the feet of our elders… that is so uncool. Living in harmony with nature…that’s not relevant to this age. We are quick and proud to declare that each one of these is just a solace to fight our fears and insecurities. We are one hundred percent sure that our ancestors were delusional crackpots who made our life miserable by making us dance to the tunes of meaningless rituals. ‘To Hell with the Rituals.’
Well, let’s look at some of the super-cool episodes from the rational life and ultra-modern age of ours. When a bunch of friends want to meet, the place that we choose is most often a bar and we can’t discuss about the happenings in our life without gulping a few glasses of alcohol. Does this not sound like a ritual? When a bunch of youngsters want to travel bike from one place to another, they have to ride without wearing helmets, have to over speed on the roads and honk horns like hell. Does this not sound like a ritual? Any new movie has to be watched on the day of its release and we have to perform abhishekam to the hero’s cutout wasting either our or our parent’s hard earned money. Does this not sound like a ritual? Smoking has become so integral to the act of colleagues taking a break from work for a chat, that the session is popularly called as ‘Sutta Socializing Session.’ If this is not a ritual what else would you call as a ritual?
Oh let’s not forget our trips to malls and shopping therapies every single weekend. How about evening after evening spent watching IPL, ISL and Pro Kabbaddi matches? How about a ‘Facebook Like’ for every random post by our friends and ‘Updates on Twitter’ for every trivial action of ours? How about compulsory selfies at get-togethers? What about the mother of all modern day rituals – Valentine’s Day Celebration? Isn’t showering lover or spouse with cards, gifts, flowers and lavish dinners at upscale restaurants on one particular day every year a ritual?
The fact is Beer Bash, Valentine’s Day Celebration and Over Speeding on Roads are as much ritualistic as visiting a place of worship or fasting for religious reasons. The last two are rituals that have been handed down to us and the first three are the ones that we ourselves have added to the list. Nothing more and nothing less. The reasons attributed to each one of them may vary. The demographics of the population indulging in each of these activities may vary as well. Value systems, aside each of these rituals is a method to the madness for traversing through the chaos called Life. The Indian way of life is very flexible. After all we are not a nation that restrict our political sphere to only two political parties. We have hundreds of languages and multiple religions. We have as much choice possible in most issues that are important to us. What matters is that each one of us rationally chooses a way of life that is meaningful and provides satisfaction to us. What is even more important is not to mock, ridicule or look down upon the way of life that is suitable to another person. Let’s make ‘Mutual Respect to Each Other,’ the foundation for our ‘Indian Way of Living.’
Note: This post is written for IndiSpire – Edition 115: ‘We Indians give too much importance to rituals…visiting a temple on a particular day, fasting for religious reasons…are these relevant in this age? Or they are just a solace to fight our fears and insecurities? #rituals’