Sunday, May 18, 2008

On religion and superstition

I just came across a two posts talking about religion and superstition. More specifically, they talked about the rituals a woman is forced to go through when she has her period. A third, radically different post, caught my attention for the boldness with which it put forward a not-so-fashionable-any-more point of view. The first two argue that since periods are a natural part of a woman's life, there must be no difference in her behaviour or treatment during those dreaded days. The third says she actually enjoys being treated like a queen and getting the men to do all the work. These represent diametrically opposed viewpoints. I would prefer to take a middle ground.

First things first, I agree that a woman must be treated with the same dignity whether she has her period or not. I also agree that seclusion or segregation is ridiculous and must not be practised anywhere. Where I beg to differ is on the religion issue. Each of us has a certain belief, or lack of it, in God. If I believe that God's abode will be defiled by my going there, who the hell are you to force me to go? We are talking about something very basic: the right to freedom of expression. I believe in something. And nobody has any business questioning it. My mother would not let me anywhere near her Puja Room during those three days. So be it. Why should I enter it just to make a point? If you really believe in God, you would worship him, even in toilet if need be. How does your entering a puja room change anything? Your mother, or anyone else for that matter, has a right to believe what they want. Just who are these so-called "educated" and "enlightened" women to call my belief bullshit?

Let's get one thing straight. Education means accepting another's beliefs with an open mind. It means being willing to accept that they are entitled to their opinion without having to justify it to you. Why is my belief that I am too impure to enter a temple during those three days being judged on? Imp's Mom is being extremely uncharitable, not to mention judgemental when she says,
"Just when I had thought that every woman hated these stupid traditions and will not allow it to continue with her daughter, this lady made me sit up. Here is the proof that an educated modern woman enjoys and find no wrong with the isolation."
I am sorry Imp's Mom, but you have no business telling me I am behaving in a manner unbecoming of an "educated" woman. What I believe is my business. As long I don't force my beliefs down your throat, you shouldn't be complaining. Also, a note to those who complain about their mothers. As long as you live with your parents, in their house, it is their wish that matters. If it is so important to enter the puja room on those days, you are free to do so in your own house, where nobody has any right to stop you. You may dislike the restrictions people, and society place on you. But, remember you are as bad as them the minute you start being judgemental about things as sensitive and personal as religion. Venting one's feelings is one thing. Launching personal attacks against X, Y or Z for the views they hold is quite another. It's time "educated" and "modern " women learnt the real meaning of the word "modern".


Imp's Mom said...

Education is knowledge, education is empowerment. It gives you answers to your questions. You do not have to be educated to have an open mind, you need maturity for that. Education generates awareness.

And where exactly am I forcing my belief's down your throat? I'm only trying to understand why an educated(yes i will still use this word. If you still don't understand why. Pity!) person who knows that there is nothing wrong or dirty with menses, It is a part of cleansing of one's body. Didn't you read that in my post fully?

Everybody has their belief's and I respect that. What I fail to understand is why do you think you are impure during your periods?

I'm not here to insult or offend. but if you disagree with what I had to say, the least you could have done is let me know in my space.

the mad momma said...

apart from disagreeing with you on many levels - i just found this to be a slight contradiction.

you attack Imp's mom personally, *because* she attacked X or Y personally? how then do you prove your point that it is wrong? strange....

Amrutha said...

Imp's Mom: Please read my post again. I never said you forced your beliefs down my throat. I said that you should not have a problem as long as I did not do so. I have no problem with you personally. I don't believe in hijacking comment space for a post of my own. That's why I linked to you. I should have left a link on your comment space, but somehow never got around to doing it. Sorry about that.

Mad Momma: I am not attacking Imp's mom personally. I never said she was bad or selfish or anything. I just said her post was judgemental. That's not a personal attack. She is free to believe what she wants. I have no problem with it. I just have a problem with her saying someone else's belief is bullshit.

To both of you: Belief cannot be explained. The concept of God itself is superstition. So would you preach atheism instead?

the mad momma said...

nope. i dont preach atheism. but i already made that point, i think you've read my post since you've linked to me..

the point being, call it blind faith and i have no argument left to you said, religion is a touchy topic - to you as well as me.

the moment you try and justify it with pseudo scientific nonsense like you *need* to rest or menstrual blood is impure you invite open debate.

nobody contests your right to believe anything you want. its when you make me feel dirty by washing your home after i leave, or insist that i take a wooden chair instead of the sofa that i take offence.

anyway. i think the matter is done to death now!

Rajeshwari said...

I believe in God. I understand that god is a "concept". However, I choose to believe. I choose to believe he has a form and i enjoy going to the temple.
I can give multiple reason why I believe in god. One being that when I have no control I believe that this higher power will help.
I believe in idol worship as this feeds my imagination.
Why do you believe that periods are impure? Don't tell me cause your "mom" told u.

Amrutha said...

Wait a sec...Just why do I have to justify my belief to you? I believe and that's it. I don't force you to believe. There is no logic to belief. Call it blind faith, superstition or whatever, I still have it. So what?

Imp's Mom said...

you just don't get it Amrutha! No body is trying to ask you to justify your belief's. We are trying to understand why do you feel periods are impure? Thats it. why is it difficult to answer that?

Rajeshwari said...

I think I understand you to an extent. You just choose to believe what ever it is you choose to believe. It really doesn't matter to you if is illogical or superstitious (I'm just repeating your words heres)
But you know what there are a lot of people like that. There are some aspects in my life where normal "common sense" points in one direction and I walk the other way.
So big deal you find it impure, you refuse to find anything beautiful/normal about it. It is always easier to not question and follow. Asking questions is like opening a can of worms.
I'm guessing you follow Hinduism? Does it say anywhere in the Vedas or any other scriptures that periods are impure? I'm not that religious and I'm just trying to understand your point of view here.

Nita writes said...

As inexplicable as it is for some people to explain why they believe in something and get all defensive when questioned about it; I sort of empathize with Amrutha.

Its like someone asking me why I like chicken so much(gosh, I know what you're thinking; silly analogy), but till date, I haven't been able to explain why I like it(not even to my mother, who for all intents and purposes is desperate to convert me into a vegetarian!).

In the end, I really wish deep down inside that we'd look beyond these age-old customs and traditions. Celebrate womanhood; take the rough with the smooth, and no matter what the time or circumstance(period or no period!), hold your head high... and consider yourself pure of heart and soul! I know I do... and you all should too :-)

Peace and prosperity to you all!

Amrutha said...

this is getting frustrating Nita's immaterial whether we can explain a belief or not..what matters is that we move beyond it...but let's get one thing straight here...I am not ashamed of my periods...far from it...i just feel more comfortable staying away from temples and the like during those days...that's it...Maybe I am be it...leave me to my stupidity will you?

Rajeshwari: My religion is of no consequence to you. I do not wish to enter into a religio-spiritual argument about this...