A Teenager's Views on Rituals, Freedom, Family tradition, Living, Women and Hinduism

  • By Aadrika Chattopadhyay
  • July 4, 2024
  • Straight from the heart views of a fourteen year old on rituals, freedom, family tradition, living and Sanatana Dharma.

Personally, I consider myself and my family liberal. My mother is Jain and my father is a practicing Hindu. Although such interreligious unions are often disharmonious due to differences in food, culture and language, this one is certainly not. As a toddler I was taught to recite the Gayatri Mantra and the Shri Vakratunda Mahakaya Mantra, I would see my grandma offering pujas every day, at the little wooden temple in her room, where there were murtis of  Ganesh ji, Hanuman ji, Lakshmi Ji, a small Shiv ling and also the murti of a Jain Tirthankara that had been gifted to her by my Nanima (maternal grandmother).  It was a beautiful little shrine which was decorated with my grandma’s sheer conviction as she prayed for my family and my wellbeing and often fasted too.


On every Diwali, we would have a Lakshmi puja, for which my late grandpa made all the arrangements. From fasting to ensuring that the puja took place at the right time, he was the main reason there were proper ritualistic pujas in my house.


After his passing, the Laksmi pujas and Saraswati pujas came to stop and my bed ridden grandma could no longer visit her wooden shrine and fast for our wellbeing. My mother having no idea about how to conduct a Hindu puja and my father due to a simple disinterest in rituals and superstitions, could not carry on the tradition forward. However, both of them, although disinterested in display of faith and religion, have a deep conviction in God. Theirs is an unshakable faith which they have tried to bestow upon me, not impose but simply explain that it was something that would ground me in times of crisis would be something like a stable wall to lean upon when everything around me would seem unsteady. The rest was my own choice.


However, before all this, they explained to me, the need to be a good person and at peace. According to my parents, one’s relation with God was a personal matter and in the larger scheme of things, was a secondary matter. No matter how deep a faith one has and no matter how much goodwill one has, ultimately, it’s Karmas (actions) and the humanity that one has in your heart that matters.


This is what sets a preaching believer who fails to realise that no matter what religion one follows or what faith one has, all is useless without basic humanity and kindness and a non -believer who does not bother much about faith, but is altruistic by nature and is aware that no faith or religion is worth destroying or oppressing others for.


In my surroundings I have often noticed, that people tend to associate things like ‘holiness’ with ideas of religion and tend to look down upon those who do not display acts of religious conviction openly or simply those who are nonbelievers. I have seen people oppress others in the name of religion, justify the most cruel and unforgivable acts in the name of religion and get away with it, all while forgetting that this ‘God’ must equally love all her children.


Religion is in my opinion, a reflection of society’s need to form different races of people.  I may not have seen much of the world due to my age, but it has become common knowledge for me that goodness and charity done in name of religion are usually agendas with ulterior motives.


The other side of the coin includes those who are aware of the tortures inflicted by “stronger people” also known as the “ better religion” upon those who belong to  the “weaker people” or the “incorrect religion’’ but since they themselves remain unaffected by the flames of the fire burning in front of them and choose to betray the oppressed by turning their backs and closing their eyes  on the victims. Such people often think that they are doing the right deed, by not fighting the oppressors because they believe that a whole community cannot be sharing the same ideology.


However, they remain ignorant of the fact that soon these flames of communal unrest will engulf them too and that is when they will realise the impact of silence. It was their silence that was powerful enough to let the world forsake them and blame them for the tortures unjustly inflicted upon them. It is a fact now that for the rest of the world the loudest of screams are just same as silent pleas and so it is necessary that one learns how to fight for oneself and as a community rises against such injustices so that these fires can gradually be extinguished.


I personally believe that although rituals are necessary to a certain extent, it is important to allow individual freedom when it comes to ways of living. Oppressing and excluding others for trivial matters like dressing, income, language etc is downright wrong because if we want to unite as a community and develop over time it is necessary to have an open-minded approach.


I truly believe that this freedom and liberty to lead a life on one’s own terms without the oppressing of others is only granted in Hinduism. Especially for women, who have been oppressed globally in almost all cultures.


True knowledge of Hinduism protects women from being oppressed and allows us to be seen as more than just being subject to the authority of men.


Aadrika Chattopadhyay studies in class X school in West Bengal. She has published seven non- fiction articles in Prabuddha Bharata which is the longest running English journal in India published by the Ramakrishna Mission and Math. 

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