For the many thoughts that come and go unannounced and the ones which refuse to budge out of my head…

The great buffet was laid out at one of my dad’s army parties. I reached for the ‘gosht-biryani handi‘, and took a sumptuous helping. To my horror, five aunties standing behind me gave me the dirtiest possible look as if I were committing a crime. One of them (the bravest of the lot) then screamed out, as if giving cue to the rest, “you’re eating non-veg during Navratras???” At once I felt a rush of angst, embarrassment and anger. I ignored and walked passed and gave them a look which said, ‘Mind your own business.’

As I sat with my plate on one of the tables, from what I could catch, I heard the same ladies whispering to each other. Each of them gesturing in their own way, on how inappropriate it was for me to be having what could not be had during a vrat.

Somehow I mustered up all the patience to keep quiet and ignore them. And soon I couldn’t help contemplating. Why do humans try so hard to ‘impress’ God so to say? How does fasting for those nine days help anyway? If you’re a bad person the whole year-round, does fasting for those few days make you a good person? Do you fall into God’s bad books if you don’t keep a fast? And most of all, how did these fasts come into existence anyway?

All these questions hovered around in my mind like a rain-filled black cloud. And suddenly a more dominant thought bubble struck me like a lightening bolt. At once I got up from my table and went straight to the table with the obnoxious aunties, and with a straight-face addressed my question to all of them, “So tell me, aunty, if you’re so staunch about keeping the fast, what is the reason behind these fasts? What event or story in mythology led to the concept of keeping the nine-day fast?” To my delight, none of them could give me a satisfactory answer.

Without saying a word, I went right back to where I was and went back to my cluster of thought bubbles. And so my thoughts followed. Okay, so maybe it does help, but how would eating different foods (and not really abstaining from food as such) help?

I believe there are so many ways in which you can actually make God happy. Like maybe, respecting the things he created. Wouldn’t it be a greater service to him that you’re appreciating what he’s done and helping him preserve it and care for it?

For instance, I truly believe that if I do things like treat people well, care for animals and plants, not waste the food I’m given to eat, respect my own body by taking good care of it, and so on, I am indulging in a much greater form of worship than anything I would do in a temple or by keeping a fast, because I am respecting God’s creation and what God has given me.

I instantaneously got up for the second time and ranted out my exact thoughts to those aunty-jis (‘ji’ being a deliberate addition), only to leave them dumbstruck and gasping for words.

I felt victorious and at the same time a feeling of sadness crept into me thinking about how blindly we follow our so called ‘traditions’ without knowing its roots, and thrust it upon others as if there are no two ways about it. And how the words tradition, religion and worship have been abused down the centuries and have been used as excuses for many unanswered questions.

I don’t think things would really change. But I still hope they do someday. I’m not really against fasting and all the other arbitrary traditions there are. It’s just that, if you are following something, shouldn’t you know why you are doing it in the first place? Doesn’t it bother you that you’re doing something without knowing why? It’s almost like telling you to write a review of a book you haven’t read yet.

With the same dismal thoughts, I finished what was there on my plate and grudgingly resigned to the thought that I don’t think I can live to see the day things do change for the better.

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Comments on: "Fasting (and Don’t Know Why). Is God Impressed Yet?" (10)

  1. give the aunties ur middle finger – thats wat u need to do.
    p.s. how do u come up with such stuff ?? i wonder !

    • Hehe.. thanks… 😛
      I did show them mental middle fingers.. 😛
      but I’m sure they wouldn’t have even understood..
      and some things in life just don’t gel with my sensibilities.. ugh.. I wish I could change at least a part of it..
      Hugs Devika.. 🙂

  2. Did you actually go up to them and ask? Next time, take a camera along to capture the dumb stuck expression. On a more serious note, this is serious food for thought. May be these customs do have a rationale behind them which has been lost over the years because of the blind following of the customs.

    I being the typical outcast in the extended family for not following any of these things. I don’t bother – Husband is the last person on earth to care about these things. So all is well :).

    • Yes I did Poornima Di.. 😉
      It took me fifteen minutes to think it over and ensure that my dad wasn’t watching and then I went ahead to tell them off.. 😛
      Plus.. From now on I’m going to carry my camera EVERYWHERE.. 🙂

      And I can totally identify with you.. My grandmother calls me ‘khota sikka’ (whatever that is supposed to mean) 😛
      But my parents are okay with the somewhat rebellious nature.. So yeah.. All is well here too.. 😉

      Hugs.. 🙂

  3. The first (and the only) time i kept karva chauth, i was so put off by the stories of why it needs to be kept, and what miseries will befall those that don’t- that I have happily restrained from fasting ever since!

    I read a line somewhere- “You can’t petition the Lord”- so many of our rituals fall into that category that they are quite meaningless.

    Far more meaningful would be to celebrate life and its twists and turns in ways that are more meaningful to yourself and those around you.

    Well written darling! I’m proud of you!

    • Thank you so much, MK.
      I really love that line, ‘you can’t petition the Lord’. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
      It’s amazing how much crap our ancestors left behind for us to ‘blindly’ follow.
      I’m glad you liked it, MK.
      Love and Hugs. 🙂

  4. so totally agree with you…
    Once upon a time.. I had this huge discussion with my dadi abt the same thing… Not exactly the non veg in vrats but just the stupid restrictions..
    And me being a pakka jainy… I have literally broken all the rules of my religion..and it is so liberating…and i can bet i am 599times better than those true jainys who do all sorts of show off stuff nd actually do nothing substantial….

  5. the same people who make a show of their love and compassion for a cat or a dog don’t mind eating a slaughtered goat or a cow or a pig… they lie outside their definition of “compassion”

    • You have impeccable comic timing man. Got to give you that. Thank you for making my day yet again. 😛 And also reviving my blog with a truck load of hits.
      Also, how is someone with a pseudonym (I’m sure your ‘proud Hindu’ folks wouldn’t christen you with the name ‘Sal’) entitled to accuse anyone of being ashamed of their identity. There is poetic irony in your stupidity.
      I can’t pinpoint the exact issue with you but there seems to be an imbalance in your sensibilities. I would suggest reading good books, getting an education and interacting with liberal beings (women and men alike) as a cure for your disorder. It’s already seeped through your system, there isn’t much time left. Hurry! And get well soon. 🙂

    • And you’re just so cute. Making a ‘show’ of compassion to my dog who’s going to do what for me? Buy me stuff? Do favours for me? Drive my car and chauffeur me? Only when you do not expect anything in return do you truly show compassion. But again there seems to be no point in explaining anything to you. You’re a lost cause. Get well soon. 🙂

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