Stranglehold

Ruskin Bond is one of our favourite authors. The other day I got his book, ‘A flight of pigeons’ from the library. It was written sometime in the 1970s and reprinted in 2014. He writes in the Introduction which was written in 2002, “ I feel this novella still has some relevance today, when communal strife and religious intolerance threatens the lives and livelihood of innocent law-abiding people. (unfortunately this is true even now ) It was Pascal who wrote : ‘ Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

This brought to mind conversations I had had with my friends sometime ago. We are born into our religion. Customs and traditions are an important part of our lives. Whether we follow them or not is left to us. But listening to my friend I realized that many do not have the freedom to lead their lives as they wish to. They are controlled by their religion. It is as if they follow all the rites and rituals not because they want to but mainly out of fear. And this fear is not just of bad consequences but also the fear what ‘people’ would say. And just who those people are, I could not understand. Yes, there are enough and more people who are always ready to criticize and pass their comments. The fear of getting a bad name is very strong and with it is the fear of being blacklisted. My father-in-law used to say that long back men were expelled from the community if they married outside the community or if they married widows! Social pressure played a very important part in the lives of people and for many it still does. I asked if the younger generation was also expected to follow all the rules and regulations. The answer was yes, otherwise the parents would get a bad name and be labelled as bad parents.

It seemed to me that it was stranglehold from which there was no escape. So much control seems so suffocating. Maybe I feel this way but for many, like my friend, it is a part of their daily lives, a routine. She says all the rites and rituals are so much a part of her life that she just cannot imagine not following them.

In our community we do have our own rites and rituals but somehow they have never controlled us, the fear of what ‘people’ will say is not there, we have more freedom. Of course it depends on people, what they think and what they believe. People who are interested, enjoy doing all that their religion wants them to do. Their belief and faith is always with them. I think when control and fear and belief reaches the extreme, what Pascal says becomes true. Really unfortunate.
“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”
― Rabindranath Tagore

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By Lakshmi Bhat

I am a person who believes there is not enough darkness in the world to extinguish the light of a small candle. We live in a small place in South India. I love reading, blogging, stitching, traveling, photography, listening to people and many other things which make life so very nice and interesting. Blogging is a fun experience, it has brought me into contact with people in different parts of the world and it is good to read about their everyday life. In spite of the differences there is a sameness which is fascinating. I have learnt and am learning something everyday. I have learnt to write haikus. I enjoy combining the thought and the number of syllables. I have always read books and I was happy to write short fiction. I had thought I would not be able to do so. Stream of Consciousness and photo challenges are fun too. Yes, there is so much in life that is sad and that hurts us. Many a time I wonder why life is so unfair to so many. We all have problems in life but the problems of many seems unbearable. This makes me feel so helpless. It is not possible to help everyone but we can do our bit, we can do something to help some in whatever way we can. I go to the Home for the Mentally challenged in our campus twice a week. I have been going there since 2011. The members are an important part of my life. The Covid has made it difficult for me to go there regularly. There have been many challenges in life and we have faced them with a positive approach. Our grandson and granddaughter have made life so much more richer.

5 comments

    1. Thanks and what you have said is correct Derrick. It is really sad when there is so much violence in the name of religion and I wonder whether we ever learn. Regards, Lakshmi

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  1. I think your image really encapsulates the message of your post. I agree, religion does seem to be a straight-jacket for some people. I think spiritual beliefs are part of our cultural identity, but I believe individuals should be free to choose their own path – whether they wish to follow the religion and customs of their family/community or another life path.

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    1. It would be nice if individuals had that freedom Peggy, but it is not always so. Some time ago we had a newly married couple as our neighbours. They were Jains.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9Av%C4%93t%C4%81mbara
      I was amazed to see the girl very religiously follow all the rules of her religion. I asked her about it and she said that it was not possible to change them. Maybe she did not mind those regulations. I don’t know. Ultimately I think it depends on each person. Regards.

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