SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Religious...where are we?

Early morning rhythm; husband up by 4;30 am, (yes he is one person who utilizes the "Brahma muhurtham" very well!)  Up at that time, he reads and reflects and plans his work day, as I snuggle cosily into my blanket, trying to squeeze in some extra hours of blissful sleep.

Yet today as I stood there in front of the stove, stirring and chopping, getting those meal plans ready and done, a word kept popping up;...magnificent...merciful....
and my mind went back to college and then furthur to school.

Raised in a Tam-Bram household we usually woke up to the strong smell of filter "kaapi" and and if we had snuggled in longer, some aromatic agarbhathi/dhoop. Suprabhatham or nadaswaram played on a radio that was invariable turned up too loud and woke us up by 5 am, but we tossed and turned refusing to allow the external noises and voices to penetrate our internal slumber.

Praying and worship was a part of our existence that we took for granted. I questioned it for a while, but then was easily charmed by quaint rituals, lighting the gleaming silver lamps(polished with vibhoothi every Thursday), Hridayakamal kolam pattern on the small circular stone kept for that (I later learnt there are many patterns meant for specific outcomes like prosperity, money(kubera kolam), etc), jasmine flowers for the idols on every Friday....There was a time after college when I was deeply into these rituals,and I must say I truly enjoyed that space.

School was filled with Hymns and beautiful songs on the Lord and Savior.Christmas Carols, all of them learnt by heart, as I refused to wear Bindi or plaits or any other representative of the brahmin idealogy to school. Prayers thanking the Lord and seeking His blessing rolled out from our mouths as easily as the Ganesha/Saraswathi shlokam; this was our unique multi-cultural cradle.

College was interestingly a predominant Muslim community and we had college assembly every Monday morning that would start with Prayers in Urdu and English....Allah the Magnificent, the Merciful (that was what triggered my thoughts here). Watching friends go for Namaz every Friday, and keep Roza for Ramzan. I could never understand their passion for fasting and would wonder at their deep commitment to religion.

While I gallivanted from one religious space to another, taking what I want from here, and leaving off what I did not want over there, I know I am still a shameful hoaxer as far as religious sentiments are concerned, using whatever suits me and not bothering about the others.

Yet if religion is about Faith, I know that is what I have in plenty...terribly optimistic and idealistic, I believe faith and good hope is the only dictum that should exist in any religion. But hope without right action is like a plant nurtured on sunshine but no water.


I was fortunate enough to live with many religions and love them as my own, but am not so sure about my own kids. With religious intolerance and prejudice made worse by media and and conflicting information from many varied sources, if we dont provide opportunities for children to accept and live with differences, be it in terms of physical, mental, religious and political from an early age, we may see our kids having and living with deep stereotypes and unable to look beyond and at the people within these cloaks of beliefs and faith.

Oh by-the-way, I believe I want to make my stories bridge these gaps for children...and that is where my mission and vision for the future lies...