A Perspective on Religious Rituals

To begin with, the sentiments and opinions written in this post are entirely mine. They have nothing to do with any particular religion or the rituals associated with it. It is just to share my traumatic experience which happened in the name of religion and above all, GOD.

It happened just a month ago – the immersion ceremony of Goddess Muthyalamma. She is one of the many forms of Goddess Durga/ Kali.  We all know idols are taken for immersion in processions.  From my childhood, I had been a great admirer of such processions. The sights and sounds of merriment associated with processions always mesmerized me. Though I had never been a part of such processions, yet I adored them to the core. To ever have a negative outlook of such processions is something that I never imagined.

The immersion procession for Goddess Muthyalamma also started in a similar fashion of enjoyment. At around 9p.m. a procession went past my house. I enjoyed the sounds of the crackers and the dhaks, relished the prasad along with my parents. It was all nice and good. Being the month of May, it was extremely hot and humid. The day being a Saturday, I went to sleep quite late unknown of the fact what lay ahead. It all started at around 2p.m in the night. The electricity went off and I again cursed the Bangalore Electricity Board for being so inhuman. But the fact was that it was the beginning of long night of processions of a dozen of idols through the narrow lanes of Bangalore. Puja organizers from various parts of the city followed the same route for the immersion event. The quite narrow 3rd Cross of Kalappa Layout being one of the chosen paths. Each and every organizer gave their best shot to make the event successful. They finely decorated the idols, hired various kinds of dancers and instrumentalists, decked them with peculiar outfits and also managed to get the noisiest of firecrackers. All the idols stopped in front of every alternate houses and thus advanced at snail’s pace. The local people, aware of such annual events, were busy offering pujas to each and every idol. The sound of the firecrackers and the dhaks kept on increasing. In the midst of it all, I made a failed attempt to sleep.

My parents were staying with me during that time. My father is a cardiac patient and my mother, just a month ago, broke her femur bone and was operated. They were taken aback by this bizarre manifestation of religious orthodoxy and sentiments which give a damn about the problems of people. Suddenly, in the middle of the night they roll out a series of firecrackers covering the entire lane, with numerous houses on both sides, and lit them. My mother woke up from her slumber due to the abrupt noise and was shaken badly. It was like a nightmare come true.  The thunderous sounds and peculiar sights went on for the entire night.

The organizers neither care about the kids, aged people and patients, nor about the laws of the country. Without going into the details of such laws, it is by now a known fact that one is not allowed to burst sound emitting firecrackers from 10p.m. to 6a.m. Then how does so many organizers dare to do something unlawful and are still not being punished? Is it only because of religious beliefs and reverence? I feel no religion in the world believes in making life difficult for the people. Being religious is a personal choice, but showing your reverence by not thinking about others is an idea which is unfathomable. The religious festivals, ceremonies and rituals are meant to bring happiness and cheer in ones life. I was never overly interested in religious rituals and this incident enhanced my dislike for them. There could have been many patients, elderly people and infants who suffered terribly and were traumatized because of the entire night of darkness along with nerve-wracking sounds. According to me one should not become so orthodox that they stop thinking and caring about problems faced by others. It is fine if you cannot help someone, but you do not have the right to make people suffer at your whims. Religion and the things connected with it are supposed to create togetherness, bring joy and not pain. We all should remember we have some responsibilities towards society and we should take utmost care not to forget them under any circumstances.