Beliefs – yours and mine

Alert – If you are a religious person please STOP, don’t read any further.

A few months back a very close friend of ours invited us for a puja at their place. I got the call while I was at work and happily made my way to their place directly from work, Buzz in tow. Time for puja was set for 6:30 P.M. and we made it by 6:20. Only a lot of other people were still to come. The wait went on till 7:15 and then started the puja.

I know what followed is my fault and I should have planned in advance even when I did not get a lot of notice. But in my defense I was clueless on what was to happen, but I will not pass on the blame. It is mine to take. After having spent her day in daycare Buzz generally comes home hungry. I get her through bath time and the 20 or so minutes it takes me to cook by giving her some fruits and milk as soon as we come home. Even then 7:10 in dinner time.

On this particular day as is her way, especially since she did not get her fruit or milk, Buzz started asking for khaana (food) at her usual time. My friend told me to go get Buzz something to eat from the fridge when another guest at the puja stopped us.

Milk was part of the puja (since it was a Shivji puja) and so was water, fruits were also kept as part of the offering and the prasad made up of some vegetables, puri and halwa. This meant all food groups were covered, which further meant no one could eat till the puja was done.

No matter how much my friend tried to argue, ‘God comes before everyone’ stood firm. Anyways the puja started and went on for an hour. No shortcuts allowed.

For that one complete hour Buzz was heard crying for ‘khaana’ without a break while my friend looked on helplessly and I cursed myself (along with getting really mad) for not having fed Buzz before I came by.

I grew up in a house where prayers, a temple inside the house, pictures or idols of God, or even visiting a temple regularly were not part of life. I was taught to respect beliefs of others no matter the religion but more importantly having a clear conscious as I went about my life was the bigger thing than praying every single day. So I can except that I don’t get the customs that others follow. And as a Mom whose kid was screaming with hunger in this situation, I get that I don’t understand the entire point of marking all food as inconsumable till the puja is done. I somehow got Buzz and myself through that hour, fed Buzz and let things be.

A few days back, another invitation to another puja on another weekday. Having learned my lesson, on my way over I stopped at a grocery store, bought two bananas and some yogurt, feed them to Buzz knowing they would even do as dinner if need be. We got there to have a repeat performance. Wait for people..Puja starts late..A child cries out of hunger..Some lady with same ‘God comes before everyone’. The only difference was the child was a 6 weeks old baby and her mom was going to breastfeed her.

Well the other difference was a super mad me.

You want to deny a 6 weeks old baby.. SIX WEEKS..milk? Really? And this is breast milk.
Oh but milk is milk and milk is part of the puja.

How can they not be part of the puja. That is disrespect to the God.
And you think God will want the baby to go hungry, crying all the while?

Fed up with all the useless argument, my friend and I asked the new mom to step into another room and feed the baby. Turned our back on this lady and started the puja.

I got to hear a lot of snide remarks about having no concept of respect for God, look at the way I came dressed in Jeans and T-shirt, look at how I wore no mangalsutra or sindoor, look this, look that. And this is where I draw the line. I respect your customs and what you do. I don’t comment on things that don’t even make sense to me. Can’t I expect the same curtsy? But more importantly, I do have a practical side which thinks before blindly following when there is a kid screaming from hunger. Or for that matter when you/me/we are harming someone or something as we follow our beliefs. For example I got equally sad and mad when I read this even when most people went about liking it on FB.

I want to know, would God really want a kid to stay hungry in his name. Does wearing so-called ‘suhag ke nishaani’ make you more of a wife? Will polluting and in turn destroying a fragile natural habitat please the Gods or provide moksha to the dead? Is the main reason behind praying not to attain a few minutes of calm in our hectic lives? Were religion and customs not started to show us a way to lead a good life? When did we become so rigid in what have been handed down from one generation to another that we forgot the human aspect of it? When did we forget to use our brains to question right from wrong all in the name of God and will God really be pleased about this?

Again maybe I just don’t get it. Maybe because I don’t pray every day or can’t remember the last time I went to a temple, I should not be the one asking all these questions. All I know is my beliefs stand in stark contrast to a lot of super religious people (and here I am not saying all religious people. I know enough people who are religious but not rigid in their beliefs). And that it does not seem to upset me one bit, even when I am called names. And I would do the exact same thing if there were to be a next time.

63 thoughts on “Beliefs – yours and mine

  1. Oh dear….these ppl certainly know to climb on our nerves and beliefs…its so difficult sometimes to be social and at the same time avoid these kind of nosing around ppl.

    Feeding a child during a puja is certainly not going against the rituals or whatever. This is ridiculous to make a child cry out of hunger all thru the prayer….I dont think any God will agree to this.

    U shld’ve taken a stand during the first incident itself. But thank God, u helped that mother to breast-feed her baby – not to allow that is simply moronic.

    1. I don’t know much about rituals and no one else was speaking up. I did not want to make a fuss and make things even more difficult for my friend so kept shut the first time. The second time around, I had had time to process what happened with Buzz plus the entire saying no to feed a 6 weeks old got to me bad.

  2. I come from a conservative family. I was taught extremely tongue twisting Sanskrit mantras before I could even pronounce my name properly. Pujas and ‘hom’s in my place require you to get up by sunrise, fast, perform the puja, feed the pandit and then eat in the order of kids, men and lastly women.
    We followed that very well except that my family always said that rules are applicable to only adults as kids are a form of God.
    So I used to be taken inside some room to be fed with banana/biscuits. (don’t tell anyone but Amma ate a few too ;-))
    I don’t believe in fasting, suhaag ki nishani, concept of menstrual seclusion(at this day and age).
    Tell that aunty that fasting was started as a way of practicing self control, not for controlling others 😐

  3. I actually take extremely strong offense to these two incidents. No one has the right to deny a baby, a kid food. My point being, said God wouldn’t want to see a baby suffer for him. I come from a moderately traditional family too, but I am dead sure there would be no ritual more important than the family itself. I am glad you guys took a stand and made your friend feed the baby. I dont know why, but this whole thing makes me so mad :S!

  4. People and there STUPID ways.. I hate such people who dont even know what GOD is and What God would do .. Totally agree with you Nothing is more important than family.. and they do say BACHE ARE BHAGWAAN KA ROOP..

    hypocrite people.. they make me mad i tell you, I also have a aunt like that and she hates the GUTS of me, and I dont get invited to her place any more 🙂 pheww thank god …

    and I hope the Pooja was not for the well being of the family it was for something else that would have been really hypocrite if you know what i mean …

    Poor Buzz If it was me in her place I would have eaten the food on the parshad 🙂 you should have done that , that would have taught the lady a lesson..

    Good of you to help the other lady Thats the way to go .. well done

  5. balls to them. God doesn’t get offended when mothers look after a baby’s needs..people just give themselves too much importance and want to take the high ground.

    Not worth it!

  6. This is what really gets my goat!

    I have married into a fairly traditional family and the whole concept of Puja’s and hom’s was alien to me. And while i have no dispute with those who wabnt to do puja’s and all, its a personal choice but i hate the ‘so called rules’ around them. Those pertaining to widows, and menstruation and how a suhagin should behave. How come Men are shudh at all times??

    The baby thing would make me blow my top.

    I remember very soon after i married, i went for my best friends wedding and her MIL took off on me not wearing a mangal sutra and sindoor and not enough jewellery’s to qualify as a new-bride 🙂 I was too shociked to react and apparently even now i am known as woh ladki jisne XYZ nahi pehna tha..!!!

    Your post has left me fuming!! i can imagine how u felt!

    1. I don’t get any of this Nuttie. When I am at someone’s place and they are going about things a certain way, I go along not to cause unnecessary drama. But there are times when you have to draw the line.

  7. I cant believe this actually happened Comfy!
    I am from a religious family… but not a ritualistic one. Elders in the family, including my granma always said that children are equal to God and never denied them food or something prepared as part of the prasadam. Somehow, i believed it would be the same in all the families… how dumb of me? Thank God, I’ve never come across such morons.

  8. I don’t understand how mature adults can be so rigid in their beliefs so as to deny a child food. What sort of a God are they looking up to? Would they do the same if it were their child/grandchild (I’m pretty sure they would!)? I don’t get it..not at all.

    Glad you stood up to that woman Comfy. These kind of people need someone pointing out their mistakes them time and again; otherwise they would only go on doing the same thing.

  9. This is really ridiculous! And actually stupidity if you ask me.

    I was born in a conservative family too where pujas and hom’s were an almost regular thing. And I remember my mom feeding us well or keeping aside a few things for us (that were not offered to God)to eat when the puja went on for hours.
    Even in the most religious families, I havent heard of NOTHING being aside until the puja was done. Even in temples, they will offer a banana or an apple to a crying child even if the puja is not done! No one keeps the entire kitchen as an offering to God!

    That woman must be really out of her mind. Maybe she thought that by being on an empty stomach, God will be more pleased with her. We all get what we deserve. Even from God.

    The second instance especially got me enraged! There is definitely no mention of denying breast milk to a baby. I have seen many women who sit at a puja in a temple and simultaneously breast feed her baby. That woman must be surely out of her brains if she thinks “milk is milk” for an infant of 6 weeks!!

    1. I have never been through any such thing as a kid but am glad to hear that this is not the norm and more like a random rule made up by someone who seemed to have a bigger voice than everyone else combined.

  10. Like celestialrays, I was raised in a conservative family where pujas and the like were the norm. But all the elders said that all fasting applied to just the adults and kids were exempt. So my mom always had food for us stashed in another room if we ever wanted to eat something before the puja was done. These people you met truly sound crazy to me.

    1. I wish I knew all this before. I would have taken a stronger stand. But mostly did not want to ruin things any further for my friend, so held on to my anger.

  11. How ridiculous is that! I am quite shocked to know such things happen. My family has never been too traditional, but we did go for pujas and some of the families were very rigid about such things. Except that, kids were never denied food, basically they all said children are ‘bhagwaan ka roop’.

    Even if you did encounter some stupid women, why the hell should they make rules and dictate to everybody present there? Why did you have to abide by that and let Buzz stay hungry for that hour? I would walk out if I had to, even if it meant creating a scene. I am glad you ignored the lady when the few month old baby was concerned. I wish you had done it earlier and fed Buzz too. There is nothing to feel helpless about in such situations. Just do what you think is right and care a damn about the idiots.

    Sorry, I got very carried away and it turned out to be a very long comment. But this post really pissed me off, especially when I read of how lil Buzz was denied food. I wanna slap her.

    1. Don’t worry about the long comment Pepper. The only reason I stayed on was because the person making the fuss was not the one who called me over for the Puja. My friend is the sweetest person I know and was feeling so guilty that I did not want to make things worse for her.

      She was also the one who held on to Buzz for almost the entire hour giving her the puja bell to ring, flower to put here and there, keeping her busy to not make as much of a fuss.

  12. I can’t believe such ppl exist – esp. the one who had to say all that abt even breast feeding! Ridiculous.

    Both sets of my homes are into daily Pujas, but nt even once have they set such rules for even adults, let alone the kids! Even on the wedding day, they came and told me I cud hv something as it would really tire me off at the end of all rituals! I think they need to strike a balance b/w the rules and rituals! Else, it’s outright ridiculous and am sure would never please God!

  13. I am boiling red with anger Comfy…and have not even read beyond the part describing people ‘milk is milk..even if it is breast milk for a 6 week old’

    Ugghhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Really??!!!!!Are they humans with a brain and a heart????Doubt it.

    I might really cross my boundaries with swear words here. So, will stop..

    Felt really bad for Buzz on that first occasion. Frankly, would have walked out (gracefully) from the scene ( I know my God is still with me and knows better than those mere mortals)

    1. I would have AHK if the person making all the fuss was the person who was conducting the puja. My friend was not at fault. She was fasting and had cooked and called people over. Did not want to make things worse that what they were for her.

  14. absolutely ridiculous!!! each one for themselves..why thrust their opinion/beliefs on others??…having grown up in a similar environment i share your views..i am glad you stood up for the rights of the little one…and aww..i wish you had stopped being polite and taken the little one home during the first puja…really…

  15. I still can’t believe that people do exist like this, how can someone not offer food to babies, kids, we consider babies and elders in the form of gods, they are the one who need help from us and how can someone be so inconsiderate.

    I hate Indian attitude of going late for functions, no one follows time even in meeting we reach on time and have to wait 10mins for rest all to join.

    I am coming from non conservative family and I am married to a very conservative. Poojas are not part of our schedules, wedo 5-10mins prayer in front of god. where as in my in-laws house when ever we go R and I have to starve and we hate that.Luckily Chucky is safe for now..

    1. I can’t be more thankful that I come from a family which does not do any of this and I am married in to a family who don’t do puja and fasting either.

  16. Oh Comfy…you heathen! Putting a 6 week old child before God’s wishes! 😛 [In case anyone didn’t get that…I’m being sarcastic!] On a serious note, I get very annoyed with some of the customs around all these pujas and festivals. I grew up in a very religious family (apart from dad) and my maternal grandparents taught me several prayers when I was younger. Mum has become very religious in the last 10-15 years as well. But for me personally, I started to question a lot of things as a teenager. I remember asking my mum why so many religious rituals involved having to wake up early — when did God say that 6 am was the time to wake up on Diwali? Never got any answers of course. As for pujas…don’t even get me started. I remember when I was in the 9th, my mum was having this big puja in the house and just before it was going to start I found out one of my friends’ mothers had passed away and I couldn’t stop crying. Apparently, not a good thing to do when you are having a puja for good luck and stuff. I had a few elders tell me off or tell mum off and get angry with my reaction. Fair enough, I could have hidden in my room…but that wasn’t allowed either. I could rant on all these customs a whole heaps more but I won’t. All I want to say is I totally agree with your post!!!

    1. PB you made me smile with your first line. Thank You 🙂

      Not crying at a Puja is the first I have heard of. How can you not be upset after hearing such a news? 😐

  17. This is all so so nonsense …how can anybody see a child crying and perform puja at the same time can these ladies sit and do puja peacefully in such a scenario..and denying breast milk is totally insane ..

    even mine is a conservative family who do not eat ‘ann’ before doing puja but no such rule exists for my son or for me ..for the days when puja is being performed by pandit there is always something for my son to eat ..

  18. This is absolutely ridicilous. I have never seen people not letting a small kid eat in the name of God. I do puja everyday but at the same time I dont wear my mangalsutra. I would not judge a person on what they wish to wear.

    1. Oh I could have given them back good for the reason why I was dressed the way I was but then again I don’t owe them any explanation and after all they did, they don’t matter to me to even try. So I shrugged it off.

  19. Its fanatics like these who misinterpret the real essence of religion and religious beliefs. They are poisonous to the society. Sorry I don’t buy the fact that Puja comes before a child that’s wailing out of hunger.

  20. Absolutely!!! I would do the very same thing, and every time. What sort of madness is this, for people to deny a child food ??! And if they say God comes first, then bl00dy hell, children (with all their divine innocence) are Gods themselves!!!!

  21. OMG! I cant believe that happened! Its digusting honestly…infact as per RD who has been to the
    Golden Temple at least 2 times, he says you cant see the God till you finish the Langar there. God says first satisfy yourself and then come and see me. I really cant imagine someone did that to such small kiddos! UFff!

  22. “Were religion and customs not started to show us a way to lead a good life? When did we become so rigid in what have been handed down from one generation to another that we forgot the human aspect of it?”…..

    I agree with you completely. I am religious but I am not rigid, and because of this my parents are sometimes not happy. It is also the same with some of my friends.

  23. I have not seen this extreme form of superstition. I think they were afraid that if any random rule was broken their deal in the bargain with god would be broken.
    Religion, faith and superstition (I think such rigidity is only fear and superstition,not religion) get mixed up, soon we don’t know which one is which.
    I agree with celestial rays, “…fasting was started as a way of practicing self control, not for controlling others.”
    You were so right to stand up for this mother – I have seen customs in families changing like this, because one person dared to put their foot down.

  24. wow , so being late for pooja for God is ok, but feeding kids is not..You are a real sweet heart to not offend your host.

  25. This is such stupidity! How can people deny little children, hungry little children food? Surely God must be more humane than that! Good that you took a stance the second time.

    I had such an experience. I was pregnant, and there was some puja that needed everybody to be fasting. Now, this puja was supposed to be completed early – but nothing ever is on time, and it was 2 in the afternoon before it started. Thankfully, there was somebody who listened to me when I said that I had to eat something – I get migraine headaches if I miss meals, and I could not afford that when I was pregnant.

    All these rituals, have just been made to control others -no other reason! And it is time that we let logic and common sense take over!

    1. Oh I am glad some listened to you Smitha. Pregnant and migraine would be such a bad combination.

      I have to agree with you, rituals have been made to control others. So very true.

  26. I have grown up and still live in a family that is ‘religious’ in every sense of the term. Am the only agnostic around and maybe rubbed that a bit into the hubby… But children, pregnant women, and the aged were and are an exception.. Even then, I always tell the others ‘paet pooja first’. But this is ridiculous! What material are such people made of?

  27. everyone has already written about their anger that echo mine this side….grrrrrrrrr

    and I thank god both set of my families are not rigid or ritualistic like this though they are moderately religious…

    huh weird people and their weird rules!

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