I usually refrain from voicing my opinion on sensitive issues on religion and politics and such – not because I have inflammatory comments on them, but mostly because there isnt one particular answer to any question in either of these fields. Some would say that they love either or both of the aforementioned topics, primarily for that point – the fact that one can endlessly argue and never reach a satisfactory end.
I am something of an agnostic, almost atheistic, the times I am away from home. Though, conversely, I wasnt so.. atleast not when I was growing up. But then again, I cant say that I was deeply religious, either. The rituals, initially intrigued me and I sought out answers to a lot of my questions. Later, they just got on my nerves. The reasons and answers I had previously thought were correct, were fading away in the fire of adolescence. Everything was to be questioned, doubted, criticised, looked down upon. I suppose, that is also a phase.
Coming back from a relative’s place, from a pooja, ironically, we got stuck in the Parel area, where Lalabag-cha Raja resides currently. For the uninitiated, he is the biggest and grandest Ganesha of Bombay and everybody – and I mean – EVERYBODY in Bombay goes to see him, atleast once before he hits the sea-floor. Traffic jams, I have discovered, are wonderful places for free reigns of thought; and so I let mine run wild.
Getting back home and inserting myself once again, into the circuit of rituals and religion, this time around, hasnt been as repulsive as it usually is. I dont know whether its because of the fact that I have seen too much or whether I really dont care anymore. Finally, it struck me – it could just probably be the fact that I find solace in these rituals, that I have seen and grown up with, all my paltry life. The smell of camphor and Jasmine, incense smoke filling the room, the rhythmic intonation of chants, the tiny, yellow flames of the diyas, the tang of tulsi, vibhuti and teertha on my tongue, the forced and awkward times when me and my brother have been made to sing, the aromas from the kitchen, eating on banana leaves, the knack of ‘eating’ liquids like rasam and kheer from a slippery leaf, the satiated snores of my relatives as they lie deep in their siestas.
All these people and all their faith, prayers, hopes, wishes – they unload it all on one unknown, unseen, unfelt entity. How much of what they ask for comes true… how much of that is co-incidence… and how many’s faith is strengthened and how many’s beliefs assured?