August 3, 2001

reason vs (blind) tradition

indians are known for the family values they cherish, and perhaps learn to ‘maintain’ over generations.

children are taught to respect their elders by touching their feet every time they meet, women are ‘expected’ to wear a bindi and cover their head in their in-laws’ presence. apart from the mandatory visits to the temple or lighting of a diya at home in the morning and evening, women are also expected to pray to god for their husband’s long life and prosperity and maintain fasts for the same reason. more often than not (read, always) these traditions are based on blind superstitions.

i too was brought up with the same indian values. somewhere along the way however, i drifted apart, and i began to reason them. in spite of many instances when i have questioned these traditions, i never got a convincing reply. i should not be surprised, if i’m labelled (for want of a better word) a ‘rebel’ of sorts. why, just last week, my sister covered up for me when my chitti (aunt) asked me why i did not want to visit the temple. she told chitti that i was having my periods (the superstitious among indians consider women ‘impure’ during this time). she wasnt lying, but the real reason was that i don’t believe in worshipping idols, and i cannot pretend to be what i’m not.

however, as a human being, i hold due respect for every other. in people, i look for teachers who i can learn from, and i seek blessings of those who bring out that emotion inside me. since a little over a year, my grasping of religion made me realise that i do *not* need a god to fall back on. if god is being true and god is being sincere, i look for that god within me, not outside…

i think i am a fair human being. but in a few months from now, as i am an indian, and also a girl, many things are going to change for me. i’m getting married.

after november 25, 2001, i will belong to another family. i have been told that i will have to learn to abide by their customs and traditions. hopefully, one of us will learn soon enough. but i am afraid and i hope i don’t hurt them in this new role.

…like i might have this morning.

prasanth, my to-be brother-in-law brought in some gifts that praveen sent with his friend who was in india for a vacation. prasanth had left his home (badlapur) as early as 4 am and reached nerul after a detour at vikhroli and chembur, from where he had to collect the gift. unfortunately for him, i had been unwell all of yesterday… i also had had a very late night, so i was half-asleep and totally disoriented when i opened the door to him at 7 in the morning.

he gave me the packet. he left. i went back to sleep. after about 90 minutes of sleep i woke up with a start. i let him go without offering him even a glass of water!!

it has been the most embarrassing event of my life. had he informed me earlier, things would surely have been different, but what happened today cannot be undone either. (sorry prasanth!)

my family, quite understandably, is very concerned. and i am too, but for a different reason. they say i’ve been independent for too long, and i’ve been given a lot of ‘freedom’. perhaps they would be surprised to know, that i am only too grateful to them for having broadened my mind.

as for values and religious teachings…aren’t they just an attempt to bring out the good in a human being? so in my new family, if i fail their expectations of a very ‘homely’ daughter-in-law, will i be qualified as a bad person?

can’t i just ‘be’?

1 Comment »

  • abhinav said:

    You are true that religious teachings are an attempt to bring out good in human being.
    But you should be careful before making statements like terming anything as blind superstition(like touching feet,namaste etc.).Its not like if you don’t know ,the things are not there.Their are really impressive reasons about some superstitions which shows that they are not just for keeping us in social limit and society rules but have far reaching advantages.It will be good if you refer to few books on science for religious beliefs.

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