I have always been a not so religious person. Luckily enough I also had a family environment where such customs were not forced upon. I grew up being quite secular. I do confine with some of my own religious beliefs but that is more out of habit rather than blind faith. Over the years I picked up rituals/customs I found a logic in and left few which are absolutely redundant in current age.
When I was young my only motive to visit temples was getting prasad. In our temples prasad is not served so on any given day I would choose Hindu temple over our’s. Though I have never been a regular to temples but as I grew up I started believing in God. Not out of fear, not any particular one but just as a higher power. As a faith that binds me to something beyond this world. As an answer to unsolved quests of my mind. As someone to blame when no one else comes in picture. As someone to hold me when I am breaking into pieces. As someone to thank to for all the good things in life. As an adult temples for me are a place to feel calm, to meditate, to have some good undisturbed time with yourself.
Our own religion is full of self conceited individuals. People who consider themselves higher only because they belong to particular religion. I have a notion that if you boast of being religious that should reflect in your behavior, in your goodness instead of following stringent rules and customs. If you have performed pujas for hours together and right when you step out of God’s home you scold someone because they have touched you and made you impure, that’s not being religious. If you donate lakhs of rupees just to get your name on the temple’s marble and refuse to help a needy, that’s not being religious. For me somewhere being religious is about being a better human – being good to others, being honest in your conduct, being a fair individual etc. I don’t understand people who are so religious that they refuse to acknowledge other’s faith. They spend hours in the temple of their God (as if) and can’t even bow their head in places of different faith.
Why this sudden post, there are couple of guests visiting us. Now there is this defined space in our home where all the God’s are placed respectfully (of nearly all faiths). The aunt is supposedly a very religious lady, she reads ‘our books’ ritually. When today morning she was reading them, I casually asked her (assuming that she is unaware of the Pooja space) that you can sit in the Pooja area. She indirectly refused, I thought okay, no big deal. A while later in some other conversation with her, it stuck me she refused to come because other gods images are also placed there. I was like WTF.
And it’s not first. We have been advised to do away with the photos/statues of all God but ours; we have had guest who have not entered our Pooja room as if folding hands in front of all gods would irk their’s (People God doesn’t have human feelings); worst was when we were asked to place our God on a shelf above others. We gave a look that that person has never visited us since then. But how self conceited and small minded people can be.
We do a small Aarti every evening, we try to visit ‘our temple’ every Sunday but not because that’s our only belief but because that gives a feeling of belonging-ness, that gives a feeling of being closer to home and parents. But disrespecting other’s faith only because you belief in a certain image of God is so wrong.
What’s your take on that? Why do you visit temples, if you do?