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.
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.
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!