Religious Rituals – Are They Relevant

The latest Indispire topic on IndiBlogger had me thinking of somehow of the rituals that we as Indians blindly follow. Here are my pet peeves in Indian Rituals.

Fasting for a particular God:

We will fast and starve ourselves irrespective of our health conditions at that time for a specific God. We could be completely physically weak but we will not give up our fast. Since we are all God’s creations, which God will tell you to starve yourself in his or her name? And how are you of service to God with this silly fasting? If you want to do anything for God, go out and feed so many of his hungry children.

Arranged Marriage

All our life, we(especially girls) are advised to not talk to strangers but when it comes to reaching the so called marriageable age, we are expected to meet a stranger once and decide whether we want to spend our life with that person or not. And God forbid if a girl especially refuses a perfectly ‘eligible’ boy only because she can’t see her life partner in him. She’ll hear everything from ‘Who do you think you are?’ to ‘At this rate, you’ll never get married.’ What highlights a parent’s insecurity better than this?

Silly superstitions related to Marriage and Horoscope

According to Indian traditions, all the 36 characteristics of a couple should match as per the horoscope, otherwise they will be incompatible and lead an unhappy married life. So, here’s my question? Will all the characteristics matching guarantee a happy married life to me, no divorce, no problems after marriage? This question itself highlights the stupidity of this custom. In today’s times, where it is very difficult to find the right life partner, totally in love couples are separated because of horoscopes not matching, doesn’t matter if they have been happy together for years and years which leads to next pet peeve of mine.

Honour Killing

Yes, I know – honour killing normally happens when a guy and girl of the same Gotra marry each other. But it also happens sometimes in cases like the above mentioned case where their horoscopes don’t match. Now to come to the point of the same Gotra marriage. So a girl or a guy married someone who is of the same Gotra. So, their families decide to kill them and if it’s a village, it’s with the approval of the village panchayat(rule makers and local governing body of the village) Some of us will ask, what is Gotra? In Hindu society, the term gotra means clan. It broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor, with the marriage within the same gotra being prohibited by custom, being regarded as incest. So a girl and a boy who belong to the same Gotra are considered as siblings. This doesn’t make sense again to me. The common male ancestor may be generations and generations removed from today, to me honour killing for Gotra or for any other reason is an inhuman act.

Donations at Temples

How many times have we been to temples and seen devotees standing with different kind of offerings in their hand and patiently waiting in line? To give those offerings to whom? To the stone statue inside. I go to temples too and I have no objection to paying respects to the God’s statue inside. But it is God’s statue, not God himself. It is a symbol of God. Who do you think enjoys those offerings? Yes, those fat-stomached so called Panditjis or Gurujis sitting inside the temples along with the other temple employees. Outside the temple, you’ll see a line of destitute people with no or bare minimum clothes. Why not feed them?

How many of us have seen the movie Ohh My God? There is this scene in the court where Paresh Rawal talks about seeing a host of devotees standing outside a temple, each with a jar of milk in their hands. He thinks, if there are so many people standing, then there must be a God inside who drinks the milk. Then he goes inside and sees, but there is no one drinking the milk. He sees the milk going out of the temple through a pipe and thinks there must be some God at the end of the pipe who drinks the milk, Again, he is surprised to see there is no one. He sees the milk going out of the temple into a dirty drain and at the end of the drain, he sees a poor man putting his mouth to the drain and drinking the milk. Paresh Rawal gives his jar of milk to the poor man. After drinking the milk, the poor man says, “May God Bless You”. I don’t need to add anything else.

Considering son as the name-carriers and the torch bearers of the family

We will commonly hear people saying even today that we need to have a son to carry the family name forward, even if they have 5 daughters. So they’ll continue having babies till they achieve the wondrous feat of having a son. So many evils because of one stupid belief – population overgrowth, poverty, lack of proper education for children because of too many kids and normally only one earning member. Then this belief leads to the two biggest evils – female infanticide and child marriage. A couple, in their desire of a child, will kill the baby when it’s born or kill the baby in the womb, if it’s a girl.

In India, it has been made illegal to know the gender of the baby before it is born for this reason. Even then in the small towns and villages, this continues. Then, even if the baby is allowed to be born and the parents keep having babies in their dream for a son, it leads us to the second evil – Child Marriage. In order to rid themselves of the burden of daughters, girls are married off at a tender age when they should be playing and studying.

As a country, we need to eradicate these evils to truly calls ourselves a developing country or a developed country.

 

 

 

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Pornography Ban in India

In the last 24 hours, a lot of conversations have been happening on the Internet and Social Media on the topic of 800 odd pornographic websites being banned in India. People were protesting all over the Internet against the ban. And there was only one question in my mind – what is wrong if these websites are banned? I agree that we are the country of Khajuraho and Kamasutra. But, for how long are people going to justify this as an excuse to support Pornography in the country?

I don’t buy this argument at all. What happened was centuries back. Why should anyone use that as an argument to support and promote something that’s degrading, humiliating and disgusting for a man or a woman? A lot of people may get a lot of pleasure out of it, but do we spare a thought for the people who shoot for these videos? Isn’t it humiliating for them but the only means of earning money(as they may feel)?

If this mode of earning money is not there, they may think of other options which are far more wholesome. Does anyone agree with me? There is one more aspect that we have completely ignored in our “RIGHTEOUS” fight for people’s rights. What about the videos that are shot without the consent or knowledge of so many couples through hidden cameras? So many such cases have come out into the open. Do we realise how humiliating it is for the unsuspecting couple, married or not?

If the government bans these porn websites, people will automatically develop a fear of visiting these websites and the demand will gradually stop. When there is no demand, will anyone bother to supply the same?

Oh and not to forget the hypocritical angle. I have heard countless number of derogatory comments against Sunny Leone for being a porn star. I have complete respect for her in being honest about it. We don’t mind watching and supporting porn, but we won’t have any qualms in insulting someone who has worked in them. I may be completely wrong in my views, but this is what it is.

As of now, the latest news is that the ban has been lifted from these websites after protests from people, except for the websites that had child pornography. While I am happy that we have a government that listens to its people when they protest against something, it is also raising a question in my mind – If what people watch is their choice, why isn’t it their choice to eat what they want? Why has a ban on beef been forced on people in Maharashtra? Is eating beef worse than watching pornography?

To conclude, I feel that porn videos, content and websites should be banned. These are strictly my personal views.

Writing to Change the World

Can writing change the world? Can it bring about social change?

Yes, it definitely can. Throughout history and till today, people who wanted to change the world have written books and articles to bring about change, You must have heard the saying ‘Pen is mightier than the Sword.’ It is truly so. It is when we write about the wrongs in the society around us that people start to notice the same wrongdoings and start speaking out against it, that’s when the change happens.

During the pre-independence era, the freedom fighters and revolutionaries would circulate magazines and newsletters, sometimes anonymously or sometimes openly to encourage people to rise against the British rule.

The advent of Internet has made this even more easier. One powerfully written article can be read all over the world and open people’s eyes. For me, it has been a boon to have the Internet where I can express my thoughts freely about the wrong practices in our society and the system. There are people who think I am too outspoken, too opinionated and think I can change the world. They will come and tell me, you shouldn’t give your views on every wrongdoing in society. And I tell them very politely, i am going to do what I think is right – they can block me, unfriend me on the social media platforms, It makes no difference to me.

I want to make a difference to the world and if I am alone in that effort, so be it. But my writing wil always be honest, powerful and I will always speak up against any wrongdoing through my writings. This is the best way to reach out to people and help them open their eyes. I wish there were more people who would do this and then positive social changes won’t be far away.

10 Books That I Simply Love!


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From a very young age, my parents worked very hard to instill the love of reading in me. I am extremely grateful to them for this as to love reading is to never feel lonely in life. You have a bestfriend for life. So, as a part of the latest topic in Indispire on Indiblogger, here a list of my 10 favourite books.

1. The Malory Tower series: I was in school when I started reading the Malory Tower series. The good students, the bad students, the wicked students – I loved all of them. The midnight parties and all the mad but harmless antics of school girls was something I totally loved and still do.

2. The Nancy Drew Books: The Nancy Drew books are the story of three friends who are detectives and solve mysteries. The books also depicted the bonds of friendship, their romances and their capability in solving cases. In my teens, my favourite birthday gifts were Nancy Drew books.

3. The Hardy Boys: Anyone would consider The Hardy Boys are boys books, but I simply loved reading them. They are the same category of mystery books as Nancy Drew stories.

4. The Diary of Anne Frank: Anne Frank, a fun-loving gregarious girl who was a normal teenager. All she wanted was her friends, school life and fun. She was a Jew in the times of Hitler’s regime who went into hiding with her family. Every time I read this book, I cry. It is a wonderful book of human spirit, resilience and the value of human life.

5. Gone With The Wind and Scarlett: Gone With the Wind is a true classic. It is a book that truly painted a woman who lived life on her own terms and conditions, she is a woman who is practical and doesn’t shy away from taking on a world that was completely a man’s world and being successful at it, hated but grudgingly respected by everyone and the legendary love story of Rhett Butler and Scarlett ‘O Hara. 

Scarlett is the sequel to Gone With The Wind where Scarlett is heartbroken after separation from Rhett and goes to Ireland explore her roots. Another awesome book!

6. Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist – This book is about following your dreams and believing in them inspite of the people around you making fun of you and discouraging you all the time. I simply love this book.

7. The Harry Potter series: My list of favourite books would be incomplete without the Harry Potter series. I don’t know how many times I read the series and I can keep reading them again. The plot, the lessons you learn in the books, the importance of truly important things in life – the books are simply amazing.

8. The Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi – These series of books will have you hooked from the first page of the first book to the last page of the last book. You will look at religion, Gods in a way that you will never forget. This series challenges all mindsets about religion, Gods, good and evil and will shake you up from inside and will have you permanently hooked.

9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – A girl who has lived a loveless life as an orphan and grows up to build a happy life of her own, unconventional decisions and a strong-minded woman – a truly wonderful book.

10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Elizabeth, a sensible and intelligent who is surrounded by her foolish sisters and mothers – a fact that makes her a little arrogant and very quick to judge people. As you turn the pages, you find her perceptions changing, actually starting to understan how people can be different from inside and outside. A book that so many of us women will identify with.

Geethanjali Videos – Animated Educational Videos for Kids

Education of children is a task that always has parents worried and concerned that they should gain knowledge and learn the things required as per their age. Your child will start school one day, but the basic groundwork for learning is always laid at home. Children have minds that absorb knowledge like a sponge. If we start teaching them the basics at home, they will have an advantage when they start school. However, we need to teach them in a fun and interactive way to keep their attention from wavering as they have a very short attention span and are easily distracted.

Geethanjali is a production house based in Chennai, South India.  They produce special interest videos in many different categories like Yoga, Meditation, Dance, Spiritualism, learning musical instruments. They have launched a YouTube channel with educational and animated content especially for kids. Their animated content library is very large and extensive, the kind you will not see anywhere. The Animation playlist includes Fairy Tales, Aesop’s Fables, Moral Stories – Animated Stories for Children, Tales of Humour. The video quality is very clear and the animation is very pleasing to the eye. Take a look at one of the stories.

The educational content for kids is equally extensive and the videos are fun, interactive and pleasant for a kid to watch. The educational videos include learning numbers, learning to tell the time, identification of colors, animals and many more playlists. Kids will be totally spoilt for choice here.  View one of the videos on teaching children to learn how to tell the time:

Kids nowadays love Karaoke even more than us adults do. Geethanjali Videos has a special playlist in their YouTube channel for Nursery Rhymes Karaoke.  For each karaoke video, an animation has been created on the basis of the words of the nursery rhyme and the children can sing along with it. Could there be a better way to learn nursery rhymes? View one of the Nursery Rhymes Karaoke videos here:

While the traditional methods of reading from a book are good practices, children learn better from visually appealing, interactive and animated content. Most of the schools today are digitally equipped. These videos are designed in a way that they can also be used in schools to teach the children. Subscribe to Geethanjali Videos and don’t miss out any of the interesting content for children. Click here:  https://www.youtube.com/user/geethanjalivideos?sub_confirmation=1