Some random thoughts of the wandering mind

There’s a ‘my time‘ for me which is during my travel to work in the morning (approx. half an hour) and back home in the evening (approx. one hour). Sometimes I also get a ‘bonus‘ half an hour whenever I visit the Uttara Guruvayoorappan Temple close to my house. Yes, that’s the time I speak with myself or travel down the path of good and not-so-good memories. Sometimes I also waste ‘my time’ fiddling with the phone.

Today was one such day, when I visited the temple and Lil Love wasn’t ready to go back home after the parikramas (circumambulations) around the temple. So I sat down peacefully in a corner while the kids had some good time running around the temple. They enjoy and value such outings very much because they do not get to see the outside world from Monday to Saturday between 9 a.m to 5 p.m., when they are locked up inside their boarding school.  

As I was sitting there, this thought came to my mind.

I come from a highly conservative Nair family, where regular poojas were performed with the highest austerities. Though we were brought up in Delhi, we used to be a part of all these traditions and rituals during our two month summer vacations. As we grew older, we were made to observe certain practices (read more about it here) that I am still unable to accept. As a child I used to follow the rules as told by my grandmother and I continued the same to a large extent till my first child was born. I think it was more out of the kind of conditioning and the fear of the stories that were associated with these rituals. Honestly, I feel that these rituals were followed back then to maintain a hygienic environment and to allow some rest to the otherwise burdened housewives in joint families. Yes, my granny’s was a joint family, with approximately 14-15 members under one single roof. Ghosh!!

I got married when I was 23 years old. Coming from such a conservative family, highly protected and not-so-much pampered, things were very different for me when I got into a culturally different household. To me then, anything that anyone said or did was right, except for what I felt or did. If the MIL said she had seen a dream that I was unlucky for her son and that I’ll cause him death, I used to take those words as written on stone. A colleague-turned-friend telling me that I need to buy coins from the HR Manager for getting coffee or tea from the vending machine, was never a prank to me. Yes, I was that dumb. I used to believe one and all and to me the whole world except me was good and right. Just for your information, all this from a post graduate degree holder in technology. Can you beat that?

After a decade now, I am the same person but with a different perspective of the same things and people. Well, most of them.
image

There’s this Karwa Chauth bashing that’s going on since Monday on all social networking medium, be it FaceBook, Twitter, Tumbler, Blogosphere and what not. I restricted myself from most of it, but I had to put across my point somewhere and this wall of mine I believe is the place I found solace in. Honestly, apart from the movie titled Karwa Chauth that I saw way back during my school days, I have not much information about the whole thing and the actual rituals performed. 

As a teenager, I have kept Monday fasts (the ones without water too) and Thiruvathira (Keralite version of Karwa Chauth, but with not so much of hype and publicity and not a very stringent one), as instructed by my mother or Mema (mausi). I have also been through the Tulsi Vivah to ward off any evils that’ll affect the health and longevity of my spouse because of Mars (Mangal) being in the seventh house. Once married, I started keeping the Karwa Chauth out of my own choice. It was neither there in my parental side, nor there in my in-laws side. I have always kept the fast (without any Sargi), I do no thaali pooja and I break the fast without the sieve or touching the feet of Mr. Right. 🙂 Which also means no new dresses to be bought, no beauty parlour appointments and no gifts. 😛 I just watch the Moon along with hubby, in case he’s in town and break my fast. Here I must thank my MIL, who did not force me against my wish to keep the fast, though she did tell me that all this was utter bullshit and nothing but we ourselves are Gods if our deeds are sane and done with good intention. Yes, many of her approaches are way too progressive considering the rural area where she was brought up in and I truly respect her for that.

This year too I did keep the Karwa Chauth fast even after hubby trying his best to make me stay away from it. He went to the extreme of calling me up and telling me that he has had his chicken roll and so I can break my fast. 😀 I know me starving will in no way help improve his health and increase his life, but might as well affect my health. But I do it with my own free will because I just love keeping this fast. It’s a different feeling for me that I cannot explain well in words. It just gives me satisfaction. Call me non-progressive or anything, but that’s how I am. 

I can see my little brother Rahul, whom I found through the blogging world, smiling while reading all this. 🙂 Yes, we keep having a debate on this whole thing of going to temples, doing poojas and worshiping idols. 🙂

My husband, parents and sister very well know that I believe that there’s only one God or Supreme Power and He is none other than our own inner conscience. I visit temples and worship idols just to give a face to that inner power with whom I can converse face to face. I always preach to my excessively religious Mom that one should first satisfy the God within and if that is done, all else is just meaningless. To me Annadanam (donating food) is the highest form of worship one can and must engage in. So if I can eat a pizza to satisfy the God within me, if I can cook non-vegetarian for the spouse and kids during Sabarimala Mandala Kalamwhy should I not keep the fast to satisfy my inner urge? Isn’t it? 

The point is I love keeping the annual fast and that’s all that matters to me. 🙂

Any thoughts??? 😀

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30 thoughts on “Some random thoughts of the wandering mind

  1. Fasting is good.. For many reasons. If the reason is your happiness, then there should be no arguments there :). Loved the pic 🙂

  2. I was going to say the same thing – to each his own and as long as you are happy and healthy – that’s all that matters.
    Remember to take care of yourself when you fast.

    Me – Personally, I don’t believe in a lot of religious rituals and I don’t endorse Karwa Chauth. But, I have friends who do and I’m happy for them.
    I can’t fast either. just the thought of fasting made me eat a chocolate now! 😉

  3. weather religious or not, there is a certain amount of inner peace that one can get through seemingly meaningless rituals. I personally do not do any such stuff but I don’t say no to them when I’m asked to be a part of it because I know for a fact that it makes my parents happy when we stand together as a family. I try and give it the importance I can give it as a cultural trait not as a religious one. I am very happy to have read this.

    • Manu, you said it. Many of the customs and rituals are followed by this generation, not as a religious one, but for the sake of keeping our elders happy and for the sake of bringing together the family and friends. For that matter, how does it matter whether or not you invite hundreds of people on your marriage or you choose to have a private affair without the halla-gulla. As you said, there definitely is an amount of inner peace and discipline that you gather from such ‘meaningless’, ‘absurd’ and ‘illogical’ rituals. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  4. Dear Rekha,
    Bravo!
    I kept away from the Karva Chauth bashing too, not just because I keep that fast too (for reasons similar to yours) but also because I never, just never, mock or even joke good-humouredly about rituals and traditions that I do not call my own, or which I know not enough about. Because I know that, while not intending it so, one can hurt someone’s feelings. And I can see that somewhere something hurt you. It did me too. 🙂
    I also did not feel compelled to clarify the strange ideas circulating around everywhere, not to mention the cheap jokes following them. I sat back and read through everything, thought of compiling it into a post and saying what was on my mind, and then thought to myself ‘Why’. My husband, my choice to fast, my idea of love, my version of it and my honey-in-the-moon at the end of the day. 😀
    Someone messaged me a very interesting thing. He asked me how I was “dealing with it”. I said I wasn’t. I was ironing my sari to get ready for the puja. 🙂 He pointed out to me, apart from the fact that mostly it was non-karvachauth communities bashing it (which is a generalisation I’m sure and one I did not notice!), the highest number of those having a good laugh came from those who were not even married yet. 😀 And then, I had a good laugh.
    He asked me to write about it. I decided not to, but look at this here – a post in itself.
    I love what he said in the end – Karvachauth is a day when empty stomachs make the least noise. So I was being typical.
    I said, oh gladly! 😀 And I went about getting dressed and feeling happy.
    Some fast for their Gods, some to get married, some for anti-corruption campaigns and others for division of states.
    I fast for my love. Only. Like you. Even though he says I shouldn’t. Like yours too.
    And I loved the Chanda Mama texting when he decided to arrive late. 😀
    THANK YOU for this post. 🙂

    • @Sakshi, wow, this comment in itself would be up there as a post, wouldn’t it 😀 Love both you and Rekha for being true to yourselves and not falling to the whimsical ways of this crazy world, more so in India where married women get the raw end of the deal. Lovely comment.

    • Sakshi – I know what you meant and I am with you about not mocking religion, tradition, culture and rituals. I agree many of them sound absolutely absurd, but still I believe when they were constituted, there would have been some really good reasons and logic behind them. Apart from that, as you mentioned, it’s my husband, my love, my way of expression and my will. All of the sick jokes and debates were just making me feel a bit hurt like you said. But then who cares…I kept the fast my whichever way and I’m happy I could and I did. The Chanda Mama text came coz Lil Love started singing the rhyme to invite Mamaji to give darshan soon, so her parents could break the fast. Yes, since past 3 years, hubby too, out of his own will is keeping the fast, even though poor thing finds it really tough to remain hungry for a few hours. 🙂

      • “not mocking religion, tradition, culture and rituals”

        Without doing that, HOW will we ever weed out the wrong ones, Rekha? We SHOULD mock/question/spea out against anything that we cannot accept. And only those that remain in spite of mocking stand the test as worthy. What if no one had ever questioned the practice of ‘sathi’? That was also a tradition, about religion/rituals. We will still be burning women at the pyre. Right?
        Why are those who are believers so afraid of being ‘mocked’? Is it because in your heart of hearts you are skeptical too? 🙂

        • I agree one should not mock, but I insist that all of us should respect everybody’s right to question religion, tradition, culture, rituals, God, everything.
          As Shail said, if Sati had not been questioned, we would still be burning women along with their departed husbands. Like Sati, there are many practices that have an undesirable impact on some less privileged sections of society (women, widows, etc.)

          Rekha, I was surprised yesterday that you did not comment on my post ‘Technology and Karwa Chauth’. Now, I suspect you didn’t read past the title! In my post, I have clearly stated, “I do not care for festivals like Karwa Chauth, but that is my personal opinion. Just as I am entitled to my own opinion, I respect the right of others to their own opinions. If people want to celebrate such festivals, that’s their own choice.” Please note I have stated “RESPECT the right of others to their own opinions.”
          I believe we as a society shy away from debate about religion, tradition, culture, rituals, God, etc. because most ‘followers’ do not know why they are doing whatever they are doing, AND they are painfully aware of their ignorance! I am saying this from experience. I was born in an orthodox Hindu family, but I was brought up in a liberal atmosphere. Most of my family members are religious, but some including I are not. However, due to my genuine (very benign, totally non-malignant) curiosity, I am aware of the backgrounds of many practices, while many religious persons are blissfully ignorant about them.
          I do not claim that my views are totally correct. I am open to debate, if anybody else is. I hope we continue to debate this subject (not just Karwa Chauth, but the overall subject).
          Sorry for the long comment. I didn’t mean it to be a discourse, but I felt this is too important a matter to be subjected to a word-count.

          • Pro, I did read the post yesterday…not just once, but 2-3 times as I came back to check on the comments. And believe me, the mail was not triggered by your post or some other post, but by a variety of discussions on FB and jokes on twitter that I kept reading the whole day. The reason I included yours and Rituji’s posts in my post was not because I found them mocking people who kept the fast or had other religious or cultural beliefs. I loved the way Rituji chose to let her DIL be happy to make her own decision on whether or not to fast, like she chose not to keep it for her own reasons. In your post, I did read the “RESPECT the right of others to their own opinions.” part. So, here’s my response to it: This is purely my opinion. Strictly personal, with no offences meant to anyone. 🙂

            I do agree that there are many, and trust me millions of practices that have undesirable impact on various sections of the society. And such practices must be fought against and abolished. But a healthy debate or discussion is what I welcome.

            • Rekha, Sigh of relief! I was concerned that you had taken offence. Fine, purely your opinion. We’ll leave it at that.

              Correct me if you have a different opinion, but the fact that we are active followers of each other’s blog automatically means there is mutual respect. That should not prevent us from having heated discussions (which may be interpreted by onlookers as arguments or fights) on matters that are important to us.

              About people who make snide remarks and ‘smart’ comments on Twitter and FB, the less said the better.

              What do I do when a stray dog barks at me? I don’t care why he’s barking at me. I only take care to ensure that he doesn’t come close enough to bite!

        • Ha ha ha…not at all Shail Mohan. 😀 My post was never meant to refer anyone as ‘bashers’. I believe all of us have our right to express our views. But expressing one’s view I believe is completely different from making a mockery of someone else’s view. It’s as simple as me finding sense in many of your viewpoints and not with some of them. In the same way, you might find many of my views totally illogical and few of them sensible. But I’m not okay with people making fun of someone else’s beliefs. That’s all I meant. It’s just like the Surd jokes or anti-feminine jokes that are passed along without giving it any thought on how it affects the subject crowd.

          Also, I’m sorry if a believer expressing his/her views on a certain subject, came to you as his/her fear of being ‘mocked’. I can’t speak for others, but in my heart of hearts I know that I would never be party to something I don’t believe in. But while voicing my concerns, I would definitely ensure that I’m not hurting the other person, who definitely would have his/her own reasoning to believe in that particular thing. I do things as per my will, as per my own choice and I do go a step forward by changing it to suit my beliefs. Thus there’s no question of being skeptical at all. It’s just a choice I made for myself. 🙂

  5. Interesting post. I do not believe in the fast for reasons based on equality and inequality but I respect yours and Sakshi’s perspective. Both ur pov make sense since it is personal and u fast for ur love.
    Cheerz
    Vishal

  6. I don’t really understand, similar to my not understanding a whole host of other things, why it is anyone else’s business what you want to or don’t want to do! I have not kept the fast because I was not brought up in a community where it is followed, and also because I don’t believe in it. That doesn’t mean that I am somehow superior and have the right to mock people who do follow the custom! Goes to my post about bullying; this seems to be the same issue over and over again!

  7. Rekha, I am absolutely with you on this particular topic. When it comes to rituals, prayers and all the other mandatory things that Tam Brahms have to do (and believe me there are more than a few of them) the only ones I care about are the ones that my family (wife, parents and in laws) care about. If they want me to do something I do them, and the rest of the world can take a hike when it comes to me doing these rituals to please them.

    Love it when you say that you choose to believe in whatever you want to rather than falling prey to the rest of the world which wants you to believe in rituals. Awesome post.

  8. I have one observation to make, Rekha. You called it, ‘Karvachauth bashing’. So people who do not hold the same views and are openly articulate it are ‘bashers’?! Wow. That speaks a lot for freedom of expression, doesn’t it?

    This question is to ALL those who consider those who express a different view from theirs as ‘bashers’ 🙂 So if people who do not believe in such rituals and are articulate about it are ‘bashers’?!

    • Shail , I have read some people talking in very derogatory terms about the people who celebrate . I mean we can have endless debates about the festival (A ritual in this case) , but when it comes to making remarks about people who celebrate , a certain caution and sensitivity needs to be exercised no ? Because while I am totally for freedom of expression , I cannot ignore the fact that I might be having friends who might think differently from me , who might have been brought up in an entirely different culture and who might have a totally different experience and perspective as far as the custom is concerned .

      Personally I feel certain rituals discriminate men and women , while some discriminate the married and single women , I have been at the receiving end of many . But fortunately I’ve also had a set of broad minded friends who interpreted these festivals in their own personal way and made me a part of their celebrations . So like Roshni says , even though I might not believe in these customs , I wouldn’t personally attack persons who celebrate it 🙂 And also I love you ❤

      • I disagree with you, Sridevi. But I am not willing to argue it out here. I will write my own post and then you can read why I disagree with the ‘caution and sensitivity’ bit.

  9. On matters of faith and belief, there are no right or wrong answers. One must do what one’s heart says is right. Nothing else matters.
    Your post made complete sense to me.

  10. I will never question what someone does out of their own free will. Just like numerous other fasts and poojas which people observe and I am not a part of because I choose not to. Till last year, I kept the fast with utmost love and dedication. This year I stopped it. But I don’t understand why someone else needs to tell you what you should or should not do. I respect your choice to do it happily. As much as I respect my choice to stop doing it.

  11. My mother would love this post! This is a regular topic of debate / friendly banter in our home and this is exactly what she always says! The fact is, religion is a personal, private choice, no matter what is be. You really made me smile. 🙂

  12. You following a ritual because you believe in it, value it and want to do it is a matter of your choice. I wouldnt fault you for a personal preference. But, I guess I would be in the bashers troupe, cause I don’t agree with the premise of why the ritual of Karwachauth is followed. I find it very misogynistic. The day the man is ordained to do rituals of similar logic, would be the day I would appreciate this particular festival and ritual.

  13. Rekha,
    I am also very timid with regards to traditions and honestly find it very lengthy and tedious. Honestly, if some one asked me what to do for a particular festival, I would say talk to god and eat good food.
    Karvachauth sure has a beautiful story behind it but, again I agree to what your mil said. Believe in your karma’s and your destiny shall follow. However, when it comes to someone else’s life, a life which is so precious and one can’t do without…unarguably I would do what our customs ask for, but in a shortcut way 😉

    when it comes to asking/praying for someone else besides you…I don’t wanna take any risk 😉

    Good post 🙂

  14. Ah! The whole point about it is the exercise of free will, is it not? If you CHOOSE do do it – and not because you feel it is the wife’s duty to do it – and are not COMPELLED to do it no-one has the right to question. To COMPEL you to NOT keep the fast is as stifling of your own independence as to COMPEL you to keep the fast.

  15. My wife also keeps the fast no matter how much I try to nudge her to to do it. I am extremely uncomfortable for somebody to stays hungry for me. It does not make sense to me.
    Having said that, she is an individual with her free will. So I never try to force my opinion on her.
    I am fine with people following a ritual as long as they do not force other people to follow their path and condemn them if they don’t. And vice versa.
    But there are layers to it. There are rituals that should be condemned. Some of them are nothing but deep rooted discriminations.

  16. “But I do it with my own free will because I just love keeping this fast.” That is all that matters Rekha. As long as you take up things out of your own will, your own choice, I’d say go ahead and do it.

    I personally believe that as long as you have your own reasoning to believe/or not in a certain faith or ritual and as long as you don’t enforce or thrust your beliefs on others then it’s all good.

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