My two pints about belief

First things first - I am extremely sorry to my blogger friends for not having visited you all in a long time - scarcely have any time in a day :( But trust me I keep thinking how things might be going at your end - how are Renu's thought provoking blogs shaping up? Hows Abhishek's humor doing? How is Shalom faring with her bebe? Whats cooking at Satish's? How are the tunes of the Piper? Whats up new with niceguy? And Raaji? Hows she been doing? And all the others who adorn my favs list on the right hand side..... I am immensely sorry for not having visited you guys.. I am not sure if you would be missing me as much as I do you all... But trust me.. once I get a breather I will read each and every post that I have missed.

This post is about something else. Recently I made a trip to a temple for the head tonsuring of my 12 month old niece. It is a custom around here to have the head tonsuring once the kid turns a year old at the family deity temple. So out of our busy work schedules both K and I had to beg and threaten (beg superiors and threathen kiddos working with us *evil* ) people at office to get one day's leave. And we went to a place called Vaidheeshwaran Kovil which is a 6 hours drive from Chennai.

Now that place had such a weather, that one could bring hard core criminals for third degree torture there. It was blazing hot, not an ounce of wind and swamped with mosquitoes. But what pained me most was the sight of my niece and her cousin ( her paternal cousin is a day older to her and had also come by for the tonsuring ceremony) The babies were nearly roasting in the heat and under the humid conditions and taking care of the kids both the moms had lost all color. It kind of made me think about the efficacy of holding such ceremonies at the cost of convenience.

I know I know purists will be leaning to strangle me - but then think about it - is nt it better to do away with some rituals as they loose their significance? In earlier times, families and extended families used to stay in and around the temple of the family God. That only made the diety the family God in the first place. So ceremonies were held in the temples of the family God so that all got a chance to get together and an excuse to pray together too. But now as families are moving away from their roots, is it still essential to hold onto these customs? Would nt it have been better if the function was held with fanfare at the place of residence of the parents - in some temple there? Is it that God only resides in a particular temple? I dont think so? I somehow feel it would have been much more endearing if all would have gotten together at the kids place, had a small party, given some daan at a social service institute - that would have been so much more meaningful rather than wasting resources in to and fro travels and stays.

My mil said, you sacrifice your looks to appease God. That's why you need to go the said temple and tonsure the child's head. That made me think what my mom always says - God never wants anything from us - come on why would He want anything? He Himself is omnipotent and He has given us what we have. What will He do with our offerings? The only thing he wants is our devotion. And I somehow have always stood by it. I feel it is ridiculous trying to give flowers, fruits, incense to God. He is much much above all this?

And I hate the practice of promising stuff in lieu of favors from God. I am a devotee of Chilkur Balaji and there its a norm to go around the deity 108 times if a wish gets fulfilled. Once when my first wish (which I put more as a litmus test of the powers of the deity) came true, I thought am I not doing business with God rather than believing in Him? But when I made the 108 pradakshina around the temple and as I was chanting His name, I thought, at least by these 108 rounds around the deity, I am chanting His name for 4 odd hours. This is a simple thing we humans forget to do - thank God when all is right. Maybe this rule was made in the first place to ensure that we thank God. And thank Him not by buying stuff and placing at His feet, but by remembering Him and filling ourselves with his belief.

The quotes of Kabir Das always linger with me "Dukh main sumiran sab karen dukh main kare no koi, Jo sukh main sumiran kare, dukh kahe ko hoi? "
(Means, everyone remembers God when in sorrow, no one remembers him during happy times. But one who prays during good times, would never have sorrow befall him)

So true....

Ps. This post was entirely my personal thought. I welcome any comments on it. And I apologize before hand if I offended any one inadvertently.

Comments

Abhishek Khanna said…
you people have it in temple? here in saddi punjabi families.. like all other tamasha functions, this also happens in some banquet hall or a fancy place.. and yea for the God factor.. we do call one priest for chanting some things which no one understands :D
Nitin said…
Very true we can get away with ritual which is no more relevant today..

But there is one more way to see it..
Do we ever take out time from our busy schedule to visit such places. May be we can take it as a way to connect to our roots.. and enjoy the religious tourism ..

By the way in your custom is it very specific on days of tonsuring... coz generally its time period when u have to do it
Renu said…
I was just wondering ki Amrita kahan gayab ho gayi:)
I feel it is ridiculous trying to give flowers, fruits, incense to God. He is much much above all this?---it is so true,lekin ham kuch bhi arpan karte hain to isliye nahi ki bhagwaan ko jaroorat ha, but it shows our devotion, its a way of showing our devotion.
When we love our children we shower them with gifts and eatables and everything, wegive so many things, not that they want, but we show our love to them.

I agree that in Chennai's heat everything becomes a troublesone ritual. we used to have Mundan on the banks of any Ganga..its really fun. Instead of totally avoiding everything we should try to make them pleasant.

We dont do bussiness with god, but god makes us do something to bring a certain discipline in our life.

These things ar eour roots, and we should try to protect them, everything in life doesnt need to have a relevance or comfortable also:) but yes I agree that we should try to make it comfortable.

we go to vaishno devi by foot and by the time we reach there we are half dead, but ask my children and family...would anybody like to go by chopper or by auto...No...they find the contentment and happiness out of this.Its the way you think.
Deeps said…
Wonderful post,Amrita.I totally agree to what you've said here.
Even I cant understand how,by going to a particular temple would ensure God's blessings on us.Arent we told God is everywhere?So He should be there in our homes and hearts too.
Shalom said…
A blog comeback with an absolutely brilliant post!!! We may have different faiths Amrita, but I couldn't agree with you more!!! I don't see the sense in blindly following rituals. I feel every ritual in any religion was originally meant to symbolise something; merely doing the ritual without considering its meaning is simply a waste of time. As you said, it'd have been more meaningful to hold the ceremony somewhere closer and donate the money spent in travel etc to some worthwhile cause. I also feel He would be more pleased if we were to do something to better the lives of underprivileged people, instead of spending away on flowers, garlands etc.

On the baby front, things are going well, by His grace. I can feel my lil one moving & its an indescribable feeling!!!
Jack said…
Amrita,

I believe God is in our heart. If we truly and sincerely pray God listens but does what is best for us. I agree some rituals need to be changed with time. And by the way it is " Dukh mein ......". Thanks for your kind words of remembering me. Looking forward to your visit.

Take care Niceguy251
Amrita said…
@Abhi - :D
@Nitin - I dont mind connecting with my roots.. i wasnt even bothered by my discomfort.. but imagine the little kids na.. hardly a year old and problem in food, change of water so much heat.. i felt very sad for them
@Renu - As I said to Nitin.. no issues in connecting with roots.. but those babies.. they are God's picture.. if we keep them happy and comfortable.. we are doing equal service to God I feel
@Deeps - Yea Deeps precisely.. God is everywhere.... Thats what I believe.
@Shalom - Good to hear momma and baby doing good :D
@Jack - Thanks for pointing the mistake :D
ooof ask me abt tonsuring!! mere saath ye haadsa 5 times hua tha !! (bachpan me)

and seriously is god as petty as us?? isn't the whole idea of having a *god* is someone who is higher than us ? to kya god bhi bribe se maan jaeyenge!!!

anyway welcome back :)
Chrysalis said…
Amrita,

Thanks for visiting my blog. I definitely ca return the compliment. As far as this particular post goes, I relate with it at many levels. I think yu would enjoy my blog titled "No Apologies for being Religious" http://manukhajuria.blogspot.com/2009/04/no-apologies-for-being-religious.html
Would love your feedback.
Angel said…
whoa ... already too many comments .. well i will post mine too :)

'Belief' -- The post, I should say, was aptly named. Its the belief/faith that drives lots of things in us. Concept of prayer, I guess, actually deals with the insecurity within us. When you consiously know that something is beyond your control (atleast by your thoughts) but you wouldn't want it to go against your hopes, there is a cavity created within you. You may term this emptiness as insecurity. So you seek the most powerful to get things done your way. You offer your prayers. Here if you observe carefully, the person who prays subconsiously knows that a prayer might or might not be answered (which allows him to accept the defeat inspite of his prayers). But he gets fullfilled after prayers. So the function of this prayer essentially boils down to filling your cavity/insecurity. So, higher the insecurity, more torrid the worship becomes.

As you said, God never needs anything from us. Its us who take the pleasure out of doing something to him. IMHO, GOD shouldn't be seen as someone who would satisfy his ego by tormenting his subjects. This becomes an anti-thesis to the concept of Godliness. (This would only lead us to concieve him as someone with 'Human Instincts' (Thanks to D for coining that term in one of our conversations)).

So, in order to come out of ironed out customs, you need a staunch faith that God doesn't want anything from you or a clear understanding of God. Otherwise, Guilt of the human consciousness would kill you of depravity. It becomes interesting here to note that the prayer in itself is a tool to tackle the human guilt (concept of forgiveness from almighty)[ You pray to God for forgiveness when you do something wrong consiously and you expect. This is not to get forgiveness from the victim but to get relief from your own consciousness of guilt]. It becomes a case of medicine which is supposed to cure killing the patient.

Okhay... its already tooo long for a comment ... I will stop it here :)
Bindhu B said…
Amrita.. I think this trend is changing fast and many people do ear-piercing at doctor's (Paediatrician) place.But I feel if not for such occasions we never get to visit these places.During our visit there , we saw lakhs of people walking with bare-foot for 3-4 days from Karaikudi (a place in TN) to reach Vaideeshwaran Koil.Comparing with that ,I felt we didn't sacrifice anything.:)
Amrita said…
@Bindhu - There is comparision of what one does with belief. I never visit a temple but my belief in God is unshakeable! so I would nt compare mine with ppl who walk a thousand miles and all for him.
And its fine that the trend is changing. I am not against the trend at all. I just wish that everyone is comfortable with it especially the little kids who cant even complain.

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