a rationalist I consider superstitions detrimental to the progress of a society, because there is an entire industry that is taking advantage of people’s ignorance. Yet as a keen observer of people, cultures and change I acknowledge the formidable power of myths and mythologies. Myths and Mythologies shape the values and imagination of a society.
The concept of God is not a part of my curiosity, nor does the thin boundary between religion and mythology motivate me to translate my academic interest in myths and mythologies into religious belief.
Since my childhood I have immensely enjoyed participating in festivities that have roots in religions, more so because they allowed me to connect with my friends and internalize the ethos of the culture I was growing up in. My enthusiasm for participating in celebration of festivals was never restricted to a single religion. In a plural society that I grew up in, festivities had both religious roots and intercultural spirit.
Even when I stood in front of an idol of Ganesh, or entered the precincts of a church, or sat down listening to Gurubani in a Gurudwara, or walked over to the Haji Ali mosque or Jamma Masjid, or the Bahai Temple in Delhi, or when I visited Buddhist temples, the serenity of the environment evoked in me feelings of spiritual calmness and a sense of humility. I never needed to believe in God to experience spirituality.
My sense of secularism, therefore was rooted in respect for spiritual needs of humanity, which could be served by each one’s own beliefs and practices.
I consider Ramayana and Mahabharata important parts of Indian imagination. They provoke conversations, socialization and even argumentation. My own mother has written articles about injustice meted out to Sita and Urmila in Ramayana. These conversations are important for the health of a society.
Today India celebrates Vijaya Dashami, representing an important event from Ramayana. On this day Lord Ram conquered Lanka defeating Ravana. It is a day people celebrate victory of the good over the evil.
On this Vijayalakshmi day, I wish India a joyous celebration of the diversity of our cultures. Together, Let us continue to celebrate the stories that shape our values and our imagination, no matter which culture or religion they originate from. Let us keep in mind that, the streams of water originating from all the mountains, flowing through all the terrains, finally blend into the ocean.