Monday, July 23, 2012

Scientific Temper

Mohammed, a lanky little 11 year old in my school, has been granted permission to use the elevator for this entire month. Also, one of the peons carries his bag up to his classroom. Very considerate of the school to give this kind of treatment to child who is fasting, I was impressed.
But on second thoughts, why should that 11 year old be fasting in the first place? Once at school, with the amount of physical and mental activity a child has on his plate, it becomes extremely essential that he eats every two hours. I think it’s no one but the parents who are to be blamed for this kind of inhuman action of starving a little boy the entire day. Isn’t food always listed as the first basic necessity for any human?
With Paryusan just around the corner, I am already dreading meeting parents who will flaunt about their 2 and 3 year old kids doing “atthai” (8 consecutive days of fasting wherein you are allowed to drink only boiled water and not even that after sunset). Is it so difficult to understand that the child is doing this only because some “Maharaj Saheb” somewhere has narrated him some lovely stories about how doing “Atthai” helped someone attain “Moksh” (another vague but beautiful picture created by the same Maharaj Saheb)? But more importantly, the child has learnt through observation and experience that observing this fast attracts a lot of attention and admiration from family and family friends (Remember we are still at “you are a good boy/girl stage at this age?). Also, he will be showered with gifts on the ninth day. Where are the religious values in all of this?
Christianity has the concept of baptism. It allows every individual born in a Christian family to decide for himself whether or not he would like to make it his own faith. But parents indulge in child baptism, taking away this right from the child and defeating the entire purpose.
"To develop scientific temper" is one of the fundamental duties of the Indian citizens, according to the Constitution of India. As transfer of ideas is a part of upbringing, religious ideas are bound to be passed from one generation to the other. But I personally believe that government should intervene to keep a check that minors do not fall prey to irrational (or even harmful) rituals. Where on one hand, every citizen of India is free to choose his religion, on the other hand, it is important that the individual reaches an age where he can make this choice.


  1. there is a difference btwn being religious and observing religion - the former being more rigourous. I do agree that no form of religion should be torturous ["This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome" (1st John 5:3)] but parents, society teachers and governments do/must realise that if they want their child to adhere to their religious principles, one needs to inculcate this quality at a very young age. ["And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up." (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)]

  2. Hey Niralee :), with regards to baptism. The parents take the vows on behalf of the child, sort of like a naming cum welcoming ceremony. And at a later stage we receive a sacrament called "Confirmation" at an older age where we need to state infront of God and Man that WE want to be christians. It is ONLY then that we are CONFIRMED catholics! The parents in no way take away the wards right to decide..So a child has every right to continue being a catholic or not. It's not as dogmatic as you mentioned!!
    Natasha Gomes

    1. thanks for sharing this piece of information Natasha. i had done some basic research and confirmed with a Christian friend, but i guess i still misunderstood it. Anyway, I am glad that this ritual :)

  3. Great write-up Niralee!! U have highlighted a very important issue that must be looked into!!!i don't understand how people, being or rather showing that they are very open-minded and technologically advanced, can believe that God will be pleased if his children fast for him...can a mother see her child go hungry even for a meal?? we are also God's children,then how can He see us going without food for even a day??? people really need to stop misinterpreting the scriptures and rituals!!!

  4. Always opposed this kind of religious views where one gives strain to his/her body to do/prove his/her "bhakti". But couldn't give words to my feelings. I guess thats what i need to learn from YOU amongst other things. Great write up Niralee.

    Thumbs Up.