Over-religious people, or people who are ostentatiously pious, are a royal pain. Unfortunately the large number of Indians can be safely labelled to be so. It’s a what-will-people-think pious, one is religious because one must be atleast as religious as the other family, a kind of pseudo-spiritual keeping up with the Joneses. Naturally I have no problem whatsoever when said people stick to their own houses/mansions/beach houses and do whatever they want there but why oh why must they walk all over the roads? Why must they make life so miserable for the rest of us?
This brings me to another big difference between these over-religious people and a-religious people. A-religious people don’t make life hard for religious people, we don’t play loud songs in temples/mosques/churches, we don’t sing and dance in the streets, we don’t light loud firecrackers, we don’t break melons in the street, we don’t get violent frequently, we don’t have ‘religious sentiments’ which are an arbitrarily defined term used to hold everyone hostage to said over-religious person.
This: Hindus upset over ban on holy dot at certain places of work. Listen, I want to go to work not wearing a shirt. It is my religious sentiment that I should be completely naked (I am a gaiaist, you see, and we worship the natural order) and you know about religious sentiments, don’t you? The sad part is, ‘religious sentiments’ only apply to mainstream religion. Minorities like us are hated and despised, but then, that’s what all religion is about, no? A chosen people, and a lesser unchosen people.
Now, one more thing. These are government workers, those diligent hardworking ants who ensure that the government is running perfectly efficiently and who make sure there is no flaw anywhere in the system. They don’t take bribes, they work their entire quota of the day, they don’t slack off during work hours and are renowned for being good at their job.* Now when something so trivial as this comes up, they’re all there, ready, energetic, shouting slogans, talking about religious sentiments. Now why do I call that trivial? One reason: Their preventing my nudity, the purest form of human existence, is not only morally indefensible it is also a violation of my religious sentiments in a much harsher way than a trivial dot. And yet, so many of these people will also be against me. Hypocrites.
I’m not done yet, no I’m not. They blocked a perfectly good road because of the Velankanni festival thing. They didn’t even do it well. Horrible planning, let me tell you. You don’t block a wide road, park all the buses on it and redirect traffic into tiny lanes. How did that strike them?! Must be all the faith in the words of elders.
That brings me to another thing: Remember when they told you, “Always respect your elders.”? Remember when they made it clear that anything someone old does must automatically be right? Remember the whole bullshit about the guru-sishya, do not question the guru because he knows all thing? Well, that’s crap. Respect is earned, it isn’t some function of age. You can have a smart young man, you can have a stupid old man. Now see, this probably arose from a misunderstanding of “Respect your elders.” It probably started out meaning that you should acknowledge that people older than you have had more experience at life than you and so you must factor that into account, which is okay. But it’s gotten bad. Very bad. Old people aren’t gods. In fact, chances are they’re senile.
That reminds me of a story someone in my class told me, it goes like this: (it’s in a blockquote, but it’s a paraphrase/translation of an old folk tale)
Once there was an old and wise priest and he lived in a house with his disciples. He had a little cat. The priest’s disciples learnt the mantras and chants from the priest. They learnt how to do the puja and stuff like that by copying what he did. Now the problem with the priest’s cat was it was frisky and the priest, knowing this, used to tie the cat up in a corner when he started his puja. One day, the priest died and it was time for the disciples to take his place. They imitated whatever he did in the hope of emulating him. They arranged the ingredients and fire the same way and chanted identically. Then one of them remembered that the priest always tied the cat in the corner. They didn’t know why, but since the priest did it, they copied it and tied the cat in the corner whenever they did their puja business. After a while the cat died, and they had no cat left to tie. Then they went out, bought a cat and tied it in the corner whenever they did their puja.
The story has much more impact when told by the original people in the original language (Tamil), but I think you get the idea. Nice story, personally I think it’s bloody brilliant and maybe I’ll give it it’s own post later :)
*If they’re Osipych, I’m Zapoikin, ha ha.