Today I would like to tell you about an incident that shows me once more how life changes when you stop believing in religion, God and everything around it.
A very close acquaintance of our family has recently built a new house. My family and I had visited the house when it was still in construction and we were looking forward to the time they would come to live there because it is practically next door, in our close neighbourhood. Finally, the day had come when they wanted to move in and give their house-warming party.
It is normal in religious India to have a ceremony to bless the home and invite people for this ritual as well as a meal. This family told us the date when they would move. My wife was happy and got ready to join the celebration together with some other family members. They prepared a gift and they even told our friend, who was a guest at the Ashram at that time, that they would go to our friend’s home and may not be there for some time.
I am not too fond of such kind of functions but my wife is. As we knew the date but had not heard at what time the program would start and when we should come, my German wife obviously asked me the day before when she should go. I answered that we were not that formal among each other to send a written invitation, they would call and tell the time and then you could go!
They waited and waited – but the call never came. The whole day passed by, they saw the cooks carrying utensils, pots and food to the home, past our gate, everything in eager preparation but nobody called or asked them to come.
In the evening we got a call from a family member of that acquaintance whom we also know. We were informed that we had not been invited intentionally because we would not have enjoyed the religious ceremony. We don’t believe in it, we are non-believers, even atheists – so they thought they should not call us for such an event.
In a religious country like India, every occasion is connected with some kind of ritual or ceremony. In every function and celebration, be that a house warming party, a birth shower, a wedding or a funeral, religion is a fundamental part of the event. Especially religious families put emphasis on such rituals and of course this was going to be a part of that day’s celebration as well. It would probably be a fire ceremony, we knew that. And as non-believers we were obviously not welcome anymore at such events.
Obviously, it didn’t really feel nice to make this experience. It felt as though our unholy presence could diminish the holy atmosphere of the event. Well, whatever their reason was, we were not invited. As I am human and emotionally sensitive, I felt bad that someone whom I considered a friend and even more than that did not want to share a joyous day with me. Of course not only me, the rest of the family who had prepared for going there was disappointed as well.
We talked about it but in the end, I don’t keep such emotions for a long time and don’t let them affect me too much. I see the positive side of things and that was very clear to me: We can be happy that people started knowing who we were. They recognize who we are and won’t call us for religious events anymore. Of course, that may mean we won’t be invited for the subsequent meals, celebrations and dances either but I believe that is something to be happy about.
We should feel free after such an incident because it liberates us from certain social responsibilities. When I shared this on facebook however, the inviting family was not very amused – but that’s something I want to tell you about tomorrow.