Rituals


I was reading this post on questioning religious rituals and ended up writing this whole new post:
I have always been an agnostic though unconsciously in the beginning and have always defied rituals and traditions even as a kid. I still do not follow and also not support following a majority of religious rituals simply because most of them are absurd and defy common sense.

But I realised the importance of rituals the day I stepped out of my house. I realised those moments of Arti during Diwali or pooja and decoration before any festival brought immense joy. They created a bonding within the members of the house, provided an occasion for celebration, provided avenues for team work, innovation, creativity and all those things the modern day HR personnel talk about for keeping their human resources happy. I missed all those moments away from house.

The camaraderie between seniors and juniors was difficult to miss after the freshers party. These rituals and traditions followed in the college really helped the newcomers feel more at home and get to know the each other better.

A solemnly conducted ritual prepares the ground, creates the atmosphere, suggests the mood for the occasion. Rituals give a concrete shape to the abstract spiritual ideals.It is only when the rituals are separated from the faith and assume an independent existence that they become mechanical and lifeless.

According to Wikipedia “The purposes of rituals are varied; they include compliance with religious obligations or ideals, satisfaction of spiritual or emotional needs of the practitioners, strengthening of social bonds, social and moral education, demonstration of respect or submission, stating one’s affiliation, obtaining social acceptance or approval for some event or, sometimes, just for the pleasure of the ritual itself.”

Even Robin Sharma stressed the importance of rituals in his book “The Greatness Guide”.
Even Swami Vivekananda said “The greatest men I have seen in my life, the most wonderfully developed in spirituality, have all come through the discipline of the rituals.”

A thousand rupee note is nothing but a paper but it is the value that we attach it to the paper that makes it different from the other scraps of paper. Worshiping the formless reality by unthought thought is the best kind of worship. But that may not be possible by everybody. So we conceive the presence of God in a stone. A stone without those feelings is still a stone.

I do not support following all rituals blindly but just wanted to say that all rituals are not completely useless.

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14 thoughts on “Rituals

  1. Hi Sapna,

    Good points. I only worry when the rituals trump the reasoning behind them. For example: suppose the rituals became so rigid that you came to think of it like a military routine and remove the fun and camaraderie behind it, what would happen?

    I only want people to retain the ability to question their own practices. When we start to take ourselves too seriously, we have missed out on something important, don’t you think?

    • Right. I totally agree with you 🙂 . It is only when the rituals trump the reasoning behind them that they become a military routine like the one you mentioned about your marriage in your post. But instead of renouncing the rituals we can try and make them more meaningful whenever possible.

      When the rituals started initially they started with a meaning but over time every generation has been modifying them and kept adding masala to the substance. The problem arises when only masala remains and no substance. We might be able to revive some of these rituals by putting back some of the essence.

      I am not against questioning and in fact it is a prerequisite for revival of rituals. I just took this opportunity to say “Rituals and Symbolism do help” 🙂

  2. Interesting article sappy! i think a big hoopla is made out of the ritualistic practices… how you pray, worship, remember god is up to you.. I won’t be more closer to my god if I go to the temple everyday….and how does it make a difference to anyone what religion anyone follows..

  3. I think I love rituals because it gives me a ‘feel good’ feeling. They bring you closer, true, and also teach you a lot of value. They help you learn and follow a way of life.

    It is very characteristic of Indians to follow different rituals. Though some times a bit redundant, it is fun to follow mostly.

    • But atleast the men folk are allowed. I know of temples where women are not allowed. In one of them i know the women are let in but only the men get to go near the idol.

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