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Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Whispered Secrets Are Out

I composed thoughts im my head after every post I read on the subject. A lot has been said & I do not want to repeat them.
Of the top of my mind, my thoughts:
On Hinduism & its practices
I would not want to question the practices of Hinduism or any other religion as one can really not venture into this area with the hope of finding answers. Any given ritual could be actually logical or accidental or completely foolish or irrelevant in today’s world. Anyway, for argument’s sake- how many of us has seen God? Yet we pray, we believe, we have faith and adhere to practices.
And yes, feet are definitely a big deal here…
Therefore we regard books as Saraswati and Gold as Laxmi and mark our respect by not touching it with the foot. Where Knowledge & Wealth is concerned, I will rather err on the side of caution and not take my chances. While we were taught to mark our respect to elders by touching their feet or prostrating before them in some cultures, we were also told to ask forgiveness if our feet accidentally hit against elders.
Will I teach my children the same? Yes, but I would leave it to them to decide and form their own set of practices when the time comes. We all are talking about pro-choice here and that is the most heartening to note, despite arguments and difference of opinions.
And for the records, Hindus do worship all parts of the woman’s body- yes, even the part that shoots the babies out- check out Chinnamasta Devi or the Kamakhya temple in Assam.
And yes, the first time I visited Chinnamasta devi temple- I was – well I can’t tell right? There, I have talked about the M-word in the same vein as religion.

I did refrain from directly touching the puja stuff during those essential 5 days yet I went by my own convenience and no one need be the wiser until today when I have put it out in the open.
And touching pickles- well, we anyway don’t touch them with clean/ unclean/ wet hands/ spoon so what’s the big deal? And making pickles – I definitely don’t see it happening even on regular days so of no relevance to me.

We have time and again discussed among friends the strange ritual of celebrating the coming of age in some communities. Our usual responses were – how shameful, how uncomfortable, or how lucky to be gifted gold on the occasion and how sad that we got none. A school of thought also said that it is our right to celebrate this day because it is conclusive evidence that we women can make babies henceforth.
On my part, I have categorically refused to gift gold on such occasion the only time I have been asked. Pro-choice right!

So in a country that celebrates the coming of age, why is it such a shame to talk of it?
Why is considered dirty if one happens to stain herself or the seat she is on?
Yes, it is unhygienic and maybe offensive to some– as unhygienic(?) as anyone’s blood oozed of a minor cut is- but shameful?
A friend of mine (hostel roomate) carried a used napkin with her in the bag in our college trip because she was too ashamed to throw it in the hotel dustbin. But the same girl did not think twice before leaving it on the chair in our hostel room- because according to her what is so dirty about it- it’s wrapped up right?
Yet again, my double standards come into play- I wouldn’t touch that chair with a barge pole after that- until it has been washed.
But yes, I am finicky about certain things like nose booger and dirty feet on my bed and hand washing after leaving the toilet and yes, used napkins and try as much I cannot come off it. Yes, I have washed off stains left by others on my sofa- but definitely not with pleasure.

There was a time when we purchased sanitary napkins discretely and the shopkeeper would wrap it up in a newspaper and hand it over to us, equally discretely. I remember once desperately roaming the streets to find an empty pharmacy or some store with a woman at the counter to buy my supply of the napkin. And today (gasp), I buy it at the supermarket after spending hours comparing the brands and pack sizes and the –most important- discounts.
And I would take my chance to fight for our cause- why is this all so important product so expensive?
I end my disjointed thoughts here.

Since I am not lucky enough to have a daughter- I would leave behind a thought for my sons- to be kind and considerate to women at all times whether or not they are menstruating. If I have to tell them that women are Laxmi or Saraswati or Shakti to make them appreciate this fact- well I will do that, until they are old enough to fully appreciate what I mean. I will teach them to respect women for what they are rather than for what they wear or how they look or what size of the so called assets they have.


the mad momma said...

good post. but i am not questioning Hinduism. I dont have any knowledge of it and it doesnt really matter because they are not mine to practice.

however - i do believe the first line is questionable - as humans, we should question all practices. that is what makes us different from non-thinking creatures, isnt it?

that is how practices like sati and dowry have been abolished. if you dont question, you stagnate.

and finally - this is not abt questioning practices. this is abt how your practices affect others. if you're a veggie and i insist that you eat meat in my house because its been blessed, will you appreciate it?

with cultures and communities mingling and mixing - you have to find a way to do things without forcing them on others.

that said - i am sure your sons will grow up to be thinking, intelligent boys who will do their mother proud and not be mama's boys like some we have been talking about ;)

Just Like That said...

Good post Itchy. I have my own doubts about certain things I follow, but like you said, I prefer to err on the side of caution. Maybe as time passes some more pracices will get automatically outdated and irrelevant...

Itchingtowrite said...

MM- just putting things in perspective - reading out the oddities - where on one side one shuns it as bad & on the other side lauds it as worship worthy just because it belonged to the Goddess. After all, there is a Goddess in each one of us right?

I am not averse to questioning. You are right that we stagnate if we do not question and specifically in matters of great consequences like sati/ dowry- it needs to be questioned and seived out. However in areas like religion/ God & related practices sometimes one really doesn't get answers. again, using the same example- we can neither say God is real or imagination or just a power/ force / believe. If I say there is God- can I prove it?
Each one has his or her own interpretation. And as long as it does not harm or hurt anyone it's ok. And more than anything, like JLT said, it takes time for every irrelevant practice to get eliminated off the system, catalysed by thoughts & debates like such that we are having here.

JLT- You know, I love reading the mythological tales/ abt our Gods & godesses. When I was youngr, I wished them to be real people who existed. But now, I doubt yet I do not touch books/ gold/ money with my feet as we have been taught that it means disrespect. But I am not averse to carrying my books to the loo. Anomaly again!!!
This things form a habit and it's difficult to just shrug them off. But as long as it does not interfere with my normal course of life or hurt anyone I am ok.

Poppins said...

I'm with you Itchy, if the customs I follow are not demeaning to anyone then there's no harm to it. I don't allow my daughter to touch her books with her feet. Because her feet are generally dirtier than her hands.

But isolation during periods, I won't do it and she will not either.

Mama - Mia said...

i feel thar rituals and god have nothing to do with each other! i mean i seriously think with zillions of people multiplied by their problems, god can hardly care whether you went with periods or even chappals! or that you ate meat on thu!! am sure he/she has better things on mind!

from what i have heard apparently women with periods were isolated earlier 'coz that was the only way to get the woman some rest esp when she needed it.

in any case its hopefully not followed in most places now!! i guess everyone should follow their own set of rituals without forcing them on others!

nice post!


Itchingtowrite said...

poppins- i guess and her habit will stay on becoz it has been inbuilt into the system!! that's how it is with all of us.
mama mia-
and also there was no napkins & tampons to really prevent accidents I guess so- or perhaps they had a better and more effective method to do so - who knows? neither we nor google existed in those times!!

Imp's Mom said...

linked up to you too :) I really don't have anything new to say!

chandni said...

brilliant post...

I don't think if we raise these issues, it'll be questioning any particular religion....

As thinking rational adults, we should question everything...even religious practices...because god is not equal to religion!

Thought Room said...

I understand that neithor google or his noodilly ness were around, but I have 2 cents in regards to the hygine issue. These thoughts come from a study of microbiology, that I had the fortune or misfortune to study. Any thing that errs on the cautious can be dangerous. We have an association with microbes whether we like it or not. Over use of anitbiotics or anti septic cleaners or soaps are not necessarily good. Cleanly ness is good, but cleaning up totally may be bad for us in the long run. That said, great blog.

Itchingtowrite said...

imps mom- :)
chandni- thanks. i am not talking abt not questioning. It forces one to think and reform. However questioning via religious angle may not lead to logical conclusions. Becoz the moment one says my "dharm" or culture does not allow, it is very difficult to wriggle them out of the practice. THe more objectivity we bring into it, the better.
thought room- agree... we hav these organisms in pickles, breads & in our body. being squeaky clean is not always beneficial

Alankrita said...

Your post had me thinking, we have no "serious" taboos against people farting in temples- that burst of methane in a closed room is far far ickier than the tiny sight of blood of a dress- yet it is there- double standards would you think?

Great post! No a woman need not be a goddess, just a human to be respected. ( btw do you think like Richard Dawkins, that religion inculcated in children is child abuse?)

Itchingtowrite said...

alankrita- thanks for stopping by. ROTFL- u r so very right. I can alwost smell that yucky smell now just reading abt it.
Actually i did a post on that long time ago- will mmy children follow a religion- i actually don't think it to an extreme of child abuse because at this point of time they are really not aware of religion etc. It is a parents duty/ right/ responsibility to mak them aware of their faith and thereaftr the child can decide when he/she can start reading and undertsanding various religions. same for education & other fine arts- no child really knows what he is going to do as a career but we parents steer them towards wha we think is good for them for some time atlast so threfore It cannot be calld as child abuse right? so why shud religious larnings be called as child abuse?

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