Sunday, September 11, 2005

The divine show-act

Imagine its a lazy sunday and you wake up all groggy eyed to see a group of all-dressed-up people bunched around you. They look quite happy. You think it's just another day and try to go back to that dream when you notice these huge vessles lined up nearby. Each of them contain a different stuff. Edible. But gooey. Not a pretty sight in the morning.

And then the worst happens.

One barely-clad-scrwany guy picks up the first vessel and empties the contents over you. Water. And very cold.

You get a minute before he pours the second stuff - oil - from the next vessel. A good measure makes way to your agape mouth. If you've ever tasted oil, you would appreciate the situation better.

Next comes mashed banana, powdered jaggery, milk, curd, rice powder, get the idea?

By the time they finish emptying the 24th vessel, you are desperately looking for a cake of soap and a nice hot shower to chip off all this stuff. All you can think of is the new shah Rukh Khan Lux ad and that oh-so-inviting bathtub.

Ha ha fat chance! All you get is a quick wash with nothing but water. Hmmmmm....maybe some lemon extract too. Of course, you remain all sticky.

Hold your sympathies in case you thought that I was the victim. Thank God for that. Or maybe thank God I am not a Goddess!

It was Prathishta Dinam (something like Foundation Day) in my family temple and this was the main attraction. 24 abhishekams. Solid 2 hours. Being a God aint that easy after all.

I didn't like this one bit. I couldn't find the meaning of such a ritual. I did ask some of the older generation about this, but interestingly nobody had anything more to say about it other than that it was a tradition and an honoured ritual and you just did stuff like this. You don't think too much about it. And then a murmur "Kids these days. They don't have faith.....what is the world coming to?"

Well, ritualism such a this somehow feels nothing more than a show-act to me. A show-act by the haves.

Couldn't stop thinking about this while walking away, especially since I knew that there was this poor family who lived right next to temple in a 10 by 10 feet mud house who didn't even know where their next meal was gonna come from. This ritual would have been a torture for them. Watching all that food being used for a puja different from pet-puja. All that food thrown away......


Anil said...

It's a psychological thing. What's easier - peforming a ritual where you only have to spend money and some time, or actually being a good person? If you do the former, you can still be your shitty old self since you feel that the rituals will curry you favour with God. The other option (sans ritual and temple going) is just too hard.

Rituals hold no meaning for me. If something is done purely for the sake of maintaining tradition, while no one knows why it should be done, I'd rather not do it. (When I'm in India, I do go to temples though - since my parents want me to accompany them, and keeping them happy takes precedence over my views about rituals)

Anonymous said...

Was just watching a show on TV on how to create decorative items with stuff like tomato, carrots and so on.Came away with pretty much the same feeling that u have voiced here.Would as well give it to ppl who dont have it than use it as decorative pieces.Looks like the new generation is pretty much on the same page with it's thinking on such matters.


Gerald Imboden said...

Excellent, that was really well explained and helpful