Tag: bakrid

Why I’m not too thrilled about Bakrid

I’ll pick up where I left off in my last post.

In it, I was basically trying to disconnect religion and celebration of festivals. I would request you to read this article with that mindset, because otherwise, 1.57 billion people are likely to be offended, which is definitely not my intention.

As you may all know, today is Bakrid.

If you know me, I think you already know what’s coming.

Goats. Slaughter. Cruelty.

My boss, Arjun, brought up an interesting point today. He pointed out how Nepal completely banned the Gadhimai cow slaughtering festival, where 200,000 cows are slaughtered meaninglessly and right in front of each other, once in five years. Even I remember signing an online petition against the festival, although I don’t know if that made a difference. But he said how nobody even bothers to raise a voice against slaughtering of millions of goats during Bakrid. Even if someone does, their voice is drowned, because newspapers like to pick up stories like this one instead. (Seriously, just read that headline.)

This afternoon, when we were discussing it, I said it’s completely horrible to slaughter animals, especially in people’s homes, where there are children watching. When we’re supposed to be teaching children to love animals, they watch their family axe one in the neck instead. Seriously, there’s no love lost in this country as it is. Why add to the unpleasantries?

My colleague was (a bit too) quick to point out to me that Hindus are no less. That Brahmins slaughtered and ate meat before too. I was a bit irked because my argument had/has nothing to do with religion. Whether it’s a Hindu or a Christian or a Muslim slaughtering a cow or a goat, I’ll hold it against him. In fact, the whole cow-slaughtering festival in Nepal was a Hindu affair and I am dead against it. My whole argument is about the lack of rationale. Any person with the ability to rationalise his actions, should not be slaughtering anything. That’s about it.

Even if you want to eat mutton, or as the festival calls for it, distribute it to the needy, then go buy mutton and give it to the needy. There’s a certain procedure to slaughter animals and believe it or not, the kind way of slaughtering them is officially called the Humane Method. There’s a reason it’s called “humane.” Ideally, you’re supposed to render the animal unconscious and then slaughter it, if you have to do it at all. Not hold it by its hands, legs, pin it down and then struggle to slit its throat with a regular house knife and let the poor animal bleed to death. (The fact that the Humane Method is not practiced in most meat shops is a completely different story by itself. But that’s no justification for this.)

My point is, it does not make sense to carry on a tradition that has lasted thousands of years simply “because it’s there!” Heck! I don’t think most people even realise the significance of Bakrid! In fact, the story goes that Allah, to test the faith of Abraham and his son, Ismail, asked Abraham to sacrifice his son through a recurring dream. When Abraham agreed and was in the process of slitting Ismail’s throat, he was shocked to see that there was a lamb instead of his son. Basically, Allah saw that Abraham was so faithful that he was ready to sacrifice someone as dear to him as his son, and replaced his son with a lamb.

The whole idea of Bakrid stems from this story. You’re supposed to sacrifice something dear to you. Not a goat that you buy off the internet the previous day. There’s nothing near or dear about that.

So, please rethink your values and principles, not as a religious person, but simply as a person. Think about it from a non-violent angle and please put an end to this mindless practice.

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I’m a Hindu; I worship coconuts

Don’t assume I’m from Kerala. I’m very much a Bangalorean.
So here’s the story. We had a pooja in my office yesterday. Everyone was excited about it. Not the pooja itself, but the box of sweets they were going to get after it. That’s a ritual apparently. “Oh! It’s Dasara! We’re going to get that box of sweets! Yay!” was what I heard in office when I entered yesterday morning.

It turned 4. That’s when the pooja was scheduled. Everyone gathered. Even the Johns and the Alis. The Philips and the Parkers and the Clements as well. Of course there were Guptas and Chatrapathys also. It was a nice secular meet. That’s around 30 people. The men assembled in front and were all tall. I couldn’t really see anything, so I assumed a spot in a corner, leaned against a computer table and watched everyone. Five minutes passed. Ten minutes. Fifteen. Twenty. The poojari went on and on with his mutterings. Everyone grew impatient. The crowd started scattering. Slowly a person or two trickled away. And then whole bunches of people went away. They took their boxes of sweets, without the pooja having ended, and left for home. I made up my mind to show swalpa respect and stay. I wanted to see which God needed such long prayers to be pleased. I moved a bit towards the centre, from where I could see the poojari and the deity he was throwing flowers on. I saw it. It was a coconut.

festivals-pooja-items-kalasha

We have always worshipped coconuts. Ever since I was a child I have seen coconuts kept on silver pots with a few beetle nut leaves on them. I don’t know why I struck me as so absurd! I realised I have never given it a thought. It seems like the most ridiculous thing to do. Devote so much of your time to a coconut when you’re going to get absolutely nothing out of it! The only thing you can get out of it is some elneer and cobri, which you can get in a matter of five seconds. I thought there must be a strong enough reason. So I looked it up. Of course I found a reason. (Someone thought it was because there was an abundance of coconuts in South India! Haha!) It’s actually supposed to be a coconut kept in a mud pot. The mud pot is supposed to symbolise the Earth. I have no clue why, in my house, we keep silver pots. Are we so rich to symbolise the Earth with silver? I don’t know. Anyway, moving on. The coconut, apparently symbolises divine consciousness. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I can’t imagine how a coconut can represent any sort of consciousness. It’s just so hard to understand! I mean, it’s alright to draw parallels between these things. It’s probably even fun and entertaining! But sometimes Hindus just push it too far with these things, worshipping cows and lingas (Gosh! And some Hindus complain that Islam is a patriarchal religion). I feel I sound a bit like my dad here, but instead of worshipping a coconut for an hour, you can go do something productive, which will probably make you much happier than putting all your hopes and prayers in a coconut. After all, happiness is the ideal end product of all your prayers, right?

Religion, I believe, controls man too strongly, stronger than it should. I’m glad my generation is a little more level-headed than our parents’. I’m not saying I don’t like religion. I’m not an atheist. I’m not agnostic either. I’m a Hindu. But religion is a man-made thing. You can bend the rules. You don’t have to follow what someone made up 30,000 years back just for the heck of having something to follow. I’ll tell you where I’m getting at.

For the past few days I have been seeing big, healthy, furry sheep all over the city. Ideally I’d be so happy to see them. But it just depresses me. It even pushes me to the extent of crying sometimes. WHAT is the point of breeding sheep with so much love and care and chopping their heads off so heartlessly in the middle of a crowd as part of a festival? I haven’t ever seen the ritual happening, but it just angers me and makes my throat clog, thinking of the sheep’s cries when its head is about to be chopped off.

Flock of sheep, New Zealand, Pacific
Oh don’t you just want to hug them!

Just to be fair to Muslims, I decided I’d read up about it before ranting on. I typed “Why do Muslims kill- ” on Google, and Google’s first prompt “Why do Muslims kill each other?” Lol. I have nothing at all against Muslims. I’m just sharing what I read, so don’t get mad! So yeah, I read that Ibrahim offered to sacrifice his son Ishmael to Allah. But Allah sent a sheep instead. So they now sacrifice sheep instead. Alright it’s your religion, it requires you to do a few things, so go ahead. But before doing it, think. Religion is man-made. You can design it how you want it. I feel like shaking everyone and asking them to go back to the basics, back to when man had just evolved. Do you think he knew anything about religion back then? I doubt it. He was bored of the usual faces he saw everywhere, so he let his imagination run wild, and drew a few out-of-the-world things on walls of caves (like a half-animal, half-human figure). The epics are all scriptures that a lot of men and women put together over a period of time, just like today’s fantasy fiction books. Back then, man had never seen or heard of such fantasy fiction and began to worship it. That’s where man went wrong. He took things a bit too seriously. Oh look at me ranting on! These are my thoughts on the origin of religion. You can absolutely ignore them.

Now why I’m writing this post is, I know a lot of you Muslims don’t strictly follow your religion. It requires you not to drink, not to smoke and a lot of other rules that are pretty difficult to follow. So if you’re breaking those rules anyway, then please don’t participate in sacrificing helpless sheep. I’m not asking you to turn vegetarian. Don’t do it in the name of religion, that’s all. Because after all, a sheep is just a sheep. Like a coconut, is just a coconut.

PS: I don’t mean to be a killjoy, I just finished ayudha pooja and wasted lots of lemons. Still keeping it festive! Hope you read this post in a light-hearted manner, like all my posts are meant to be read. Cheers!