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Sunday, September 11, 2011

“Do you believe in your religion?” Well… it depends. On about a million things. After today’s religious ceremony I attended, one of the near-thousand festivals we celebrate in a year, the dilemma continues.
Today, after constant contemplation for several weeks, my parents coaxed me into attending the pooja for Anantha Padmanabha festival being celebrated in a mutt. For those who don’t know, it is a place where men who never went to gym in their entire lives make it obvious by wearing just a panche, (silk cloth draped around the waist) and insist that all ladies cover themselves head to toe. This is not about feminism and gender equality so I won’t dwell on that issue. I’ll just say frankly, I was terribly bored in that situation. Thankfully I had a book with me; it came to my rescue. Making myself comfortable in a corner of the big hall and stretching my legs, I had just begun to get engrossed when one of the bare-bodied bosses came to me and said, “Fold your legs!” and why? “It points towards God!”(He meant the idol of the deity sitting diagonally opposite about ten feet away).
This reminded me of the popular story almost every Hindu must have heard in their childhood, that of Kanakadasa. His teacher once gave all his disciples a banana each, and asked them all to eat it in a place where nobody is looking (this assignment sounds far more interesting than what we get now!). only Kanakadasa comes back the next day with the fruit intact, and gives the coolest excuse for not completing an assignment “I could not find a place where nobody is looking! God is everywhere!”
Makes sense right?
Maybe years of exposing skin has resulted in them losing this basic wisdom. And at the end of this thought along with being bored, confused and sleepy, I was hungry. Dad had insisted on not breaking the fast until the pooja was over and just decided to have two cups of coffee (“not counted as food”). Here he sat stiffly like he had a healthy meal of oats fruit and milk. My stomach growled. Quietly I slipped out, bought myself a coke and fries from good old McDonalds, sat in the car and munched away.
*sheepish smile*
By the time I returned it was lunch time and more people were undressing (why??.. I don’t get it either!). Some pious wife fished out a large box of pills from her bag and picked out the right ones with her frail, wrinkled hands and held it out for her husband. He obediently swallowed them. I tried hard to picture him stronger after all those pills but I failed. His pills, the bulky necklace of holy beads, smearing of Chandana and other stuff all over his body and the bulky mobile phone falling off his lap took up half of his weight. His wife bullied his from one side, and I sat there wondering, is this where God is? I can’t bring myself to trust religion to bring about anything positive. Yet, we follow.
Again, the dilemma continues……..

PS: this post is not opposing any religion. it is just a contemplation. no offence to believers!!


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