At the outset, I hope that this blog is sensitive – for the right reasons. Ones religion is very dear to all of us and hence we feel very strongly about the same.
The idea of writing this was to use my limited knowledge and think of ONE unique feature of every religion to highlight the same. So let the disclaimer be upfront – if I have missed out mentioning your religion here or if you feel that something else is much better feature than the one mentioned by me – please accept my apologies in advance. Any hurt caused is purely unintentional.
Also I had the greatest difficulty in writing about Hinduism in this blog, not because there was not anything to write about but to decide the one thing that I consider to be unique. Also, maybe because it is difficult to write about something that you know well – at least in comparison to the other religions that I have taken the liberty to write about.
The Christian faith of “Godparents” is a novel safety net for children – in case something happens to the parents or they separate. The Godparents are the legal guardians of kids and this is considered a great responsibility and an honour. Now that the families are getting nuclear and the social safety net is absent, this is a very good concept indeed.
The Islamic concept of “Zakat” is unique. It involves donation of a part of one’s annual income to charity and charitable causes. The percentages specified varies in various sects, the minimum is 12.5% - substantial indeed. Because the rewards can never be equally divided in a society, building charity into faith is indeed a great way to ensure that the society benefits from the well being of its members.
The Jain tradition of “Kshamavani” or “Forgiveness Day” is a day of forgiving and seeking forgiveness on the last day of the holy Paryausana festival. This day the Jains ask for forgiveness for all the hurts and mistakes committed by them – knowingly or unknowingly. They also forgive others and start the next year without this burden. A beautiful concept indeed – forgiveness if asked with sincerity leads to better relationships and fulfilling lives. So many lives and relationships suffer as emotional baggage’s are carried along for many years – forgiving and moving on is a very desirable indeed.
The Sikh concept of “Langar” or community kitchen is worth emulating. People come together to prepare and serve food to guests who sit together on the floor and share the prepared food – for the needy and the well to do alike. Langar is practised by all Gurdwaras all days of the week. A beautiful tradition of the community coming together to help each other and break barriers of caste and rich - poor.
The “sense of community” is the greatest attribute of the Parsis. They are a closely knit community that does not think twice before helping others from the community and also build safety nets within the community for those who are not so fortunate.
As I mentioned this was difficult for me. I guess “Tolerance” is our biggest virtue and a great differentiator. Where does it come from? Maybe because we have so many gods and it is ok for people in a family to pray to different gods. It is not uncommon to have many gods in our worship places at home and “temple complexes” to have various temples at the same place. This tolerance leads us to accept other religions, foreign rulers (I am not talking of only the past here) and even some blasphemy when some of our gods and goddesses are painted in the nude by some free spirited artist. The same artist will never have the courage to do the same to a god of any other religion – this tolerance is what makes us unique and also successful (more on the successful part in a separate blog). Mind you – this is not a weakness and should not be seen as one.
What is the idea of writing about these? To celebrate and respect other religions, I would say. If beauty lies in the eye of the beholder then let everything be beautiful.
Next week’s blog – “The Dumbing down of Media”