Religious rituals are actually pretty important in life. They are like a crutch. I don’t need the crutch once I learn how to walk properly. But till I do, if I don’t want to fall, I must use the crutch. In the same way, I need religious rituals till I learn to live lovingly and non-violently.
I accept several rituals willingly as necessary in the course of my daily life.
But when it comes to religious rituals, I crib and resist. I abstain and bypass. Why should I do these rituals, I think. They are a waste of time, uncouth and meaningless. I convince myself so and ignore them in my life.
In South India, where I grew up, religious rituals were a way of life. We had daily religious rituals at home. Special occasions piled on additional demands. Birth, death, marriage, barber-shop visits, naming the new-born baby, transitioning the new-born from milk to solid food – all brought on their own additional activities. There were rituals for different phases of the moon, sojourns of the sun, days of the week, dawn, noon and dusk, arrival of the seasons, festivals and celebrations. And whatever else you name, we had a religious ritual for it.
Paucity of funds never stopped or even slowed down these activities. No, not at all. The religious rituals hummed along merrily throughout the day, week, month and year.
Some of these rituals provided a blanket of comfort and peace. Some brought the excitement of anticipation and the joy of fulfillment. Some brought sheer thrill in their wake. But several of them, I must admit, were outright boring.
When I moved to a far away land, I left the religious rituals behind. Rather the rituals left me. Number of years later, a time came when I missed them. I wanted to bring these rituals back in my life. But before I did that I was curious to understand why I missed them. What is it about these mostly boring and time-consuming activities that I really longed for them?
I wondered what these rituals actually mean. And was humbled to discover that each one of them was only an action of peace, generosity and well being. Peace and well being not only for me and my family but for the whole world. I can’t deny that I felt a sense of awe and gratitude to my ancestors who have given me such wonderful things to do in life. Truly, what can be more gratifying than an activity that promotes the wellbeing of all?
The selfless goodness in these religious rituals was what was beckoning me to get back to them. I realized that a ritual has been prescribed to train and develop me into a selfless good person.
- The various rituals with which the Lord is worshipped with is for the satisfaction of the mind which craves for personal contact with the Supreme.
- These are karmas of high order that lead to spiritual wisdom.
- First start with the idea, “I am in the Light”
- Then you experience, “The light is in me”
- This leads to the conviction, “I am the Light!”
- That is supreme wisdom!
– Sathya Sai Baba
I’ll share a few glimpses of the goodness that religious rituals offer in the upcoming posts.