Wednesday, 12 August 2015

On Religion...

Disclaimer: This piece doesn't intend to hurt your sentiments. It is just a means to express mine. Thanks for being tolerant :)

I envy people who can drape accoutrements of their religion by the dozen on their bodies. I envy their security, the surety that comes from knowing that at the end of the day, they have somebody definitive to praise for the miracles and blame for the curses in their lives. I envy how they fast on certain days and feast on others, disguising all their suffering and reveling in all the joy that belonging to religion brings.

In archaic forms that still need me to label my religion as a part of my identity, I put down Hinduism, albeit a little apprehensively.

I do not fast on Shivratri; I am perpetually confused as to why we celebrate two of them in a year (hoping my limited knowledge in this regard is correct). I like Janmashtmi for the beautiful programmes held at temples in the night, for the super cute figurines of baby Krishna, whom I absolutely adore, for the swings I get to give him- a number of times over, for the colourful balloons; for the idea that my favourite God could have a birthday, too! I do not know of the significance of the fervor and the gaiety that preceds Ganesh Visarjan on Ganesh Chaturthi. I am blissfully unaware of the varied forms that Maa Durga is worshipped in, during the auspicious Navratri.  

My routine doesn’t involve recitations of aartis or Hanuman Chalisa every morning at 5 am. I do not go to temples regularly, and even if I do, instead of actually praying, I end up looking at the serene, simultaneous figures of Krishna and Radha in awe, wondering if Krishna loves all of us as much as he loved Radha! (I Hope he does, or it will break my heart!)

Maybe, I am not a Hindu, after all.

 My mom believes in Guru Nanak Ji. The gurudwara is a place I visit daily. I dutifully kneel before the Guru Granth Sahib across my city, despite not being a Sikh in the traditional sense of the word.  If I concentrate, I can impart meaning to the soothing voice of the raagis singing the shabads- sacred hymns in Punjabi. I sport one of the 5 Ks of Sikhism, the Kada, on my wrist. It is the only outer display of belief I allow myself the liberty of, because, inexplicably, it makes me feel protected and looked after.  Yet, I cannot help but feel a slightly disparaging sense of alienation that churns inside my stomach when I glimpse men and women carrying Kirpans draped across their sides, as warriors of the gurus. I have never done the nitnem religiously because I couldn’t fathom the language in totality. I get a haircut every once in a while.

I am not Sikh, either.

Churches fascinate me with their aura of peace. The mass is a beautiful congregation- not only of people, but of attires, tongues, voices and tales. The stained glass windows hold my gaze for moments on end; the filtered sunlight surprisingly adequate to awaken the light of joy, within. Yet, I have never touched the Bible. I envy the cross that dangles from the necks of the Christians. I miss the happiness in decorating Christmas trees and looking for Easter eggs and being able to talk to Jesus as if he knows it all. I miss all of it despite having no apparent cause to.

I am neither Catholic nor Protestant, nor do I connect with any other sect in Christianity.

Buddhism and the theories of Zen find a resonance with me. I like to see monks and chant Om Mane Padme Hum- their Golden Mantra randomly during the day. The scenes of Azaans in movies bring a smile on my face. Mosques fascinate me. Yet, I cannot label myself as a Buddhist or a Muslim simply on these grounds.

I envy people who belong.

I envy that they do not go to gurudwaras and whisper prayers in English, the way I do, because Punjabi isn’t my area of expertise, exactly.

I envy how simply they purchase flowers for offering to the deities while all I seem to visit religious shrines for, is to say thank you and send a prayer for the well being of people I love.  

I envy their knowledge of customs and procedures and hate myself for not being proper in my conversations with God, at times. I wonder if they fight with their Gods, too and challenge Him/Her to prove existence.

I wonder if I am doing it all wrong, somehow.

I believe in a superpower that runs things we are far too naive to grasp. I half-agree that God is nirgun- without a tangible form. Yet, I love the ideas and myths of existence of some Gods more than others. I am not an atheist, because I believe.

The only question I haven’t figured out the answer to is what I actually believe in.


Someday in the near future, before they do away with ‘Religion’ on forms, I hope to find that out. 

‘Belonging’ may not be everything, but, ‘knowing’ just might be.