The hilarious Report of non-Hindus urged to take Part in religious Ceremonies in India – 26 Feb 15

I told you many times that we enjoy having guests at the Ashram very much! It is really nice when you have people of different countries at one place, everyone sharing their thoughts and their opinions. Of course, they also tell us what they have seen and experienced in India – and a recent report didn’t only make us laugh but also gave us a few thoughts on people performing religious rituals, trying to make others participate.

Two of our Ashram guests had gone to Keshi Ghat, which is the place in Vrindavan where stairs lead into the river Yamuna. Currently the river has very low water but that doesn’t keep people from daily performing a fire ceremony for pilgrims to worship the river. The couple went to see this ceremony – and really, their report was first of all hilarious to watch.

Usually, people sit on the side and watch what is going on from a certain distance. They came to the place and were still wondering where they should best sit, when some pilgrims came and made movements for them to come along. They followed and soon found themselves in the middle of a crowd, doing things that they were told to do, in order not to hurt anybody’s religious sentiments and of course also to make this unique experience.

And unique it was! They told how they got pieces of dough to throw into the river, how they had to hold burning ceremonial candle holders, swing them around in the crowd while taking care not to burn their neighbours and even place little candle boats into the shallow river with the help of a long stick that they had to somehow balance on the way. At one point they were given a hollow horn of some kind which was then filled with milk and which they were told – with gestures – to hold over the river to let the milk pour in there. It was a balancing act, trying to hold the horn far enough out so that the milk would reach the water while trying to not fall over the barrier themselves! They were relieved when it was finally empty – and shocked when someone came by twice to refill it!

Back at the Ashram, they imitated the actions and caused big laughter among everyone. Obviously, they enjoyed and said they had been really involved but at the same time they were exhausted. It was a lot of noise, the river was not flowing and rather stinky and they had to do a lot of unusual movements. And they also made a little fun of those actions. And it is obvious: they did not really know what they were doing, what the logic or symbolism behind those actions was!

While I believe they have a great deal of memories from this experience and while we always recommend people watching the ceremony to feel the atmosphere, I also think they should not have been pulled in.

Really, if you are performing your own, obviously Hindu ceremony, and a person comes who is very clearly non-Hindu, so who doesn’t know your rituals and traditions, why do you try to get him to follow? If it is to show him your religion, it would not have been necessary to make this guest do all these things he didn’t understand. He did not get to know your religion any better through this! Do you want to show off your own religiosity? Again, for that you would not need to make another person do what you are doing! Or do you only do that to get a donation in the end? A religious farce for money?

Then again, I had to think about those Hindus who participate in the ritual. Many of them in reality don’t know either what they are doing! They just follow the actions which they priest does and which their parents and ancestors have showed them and repeated with them over and over again. They don’t know the symbolism or the implied sense behind it. So in a way, it is for them also just a game. A game with the benefit of a possible divine blessing.

I can understand that you would like to share the fun of a game with a foreigner. But let me tell you that this also exposes you to getting ridiculed, made fun of – and I know for sure you would not like that! So why can’t we just do it this way: if someone comes and actively shows interest to participate, let them. If not, just let them watch! Don’t force anybody and just do your thing.

And most of all, when you have a bit of free time, think of that river, its pollution and other problems and what a nonsense you are actually doing there! 🙂

When lots of holy Milk flows down the Drain… – 24 Mar 13

Thinking back on my time in 2005, I have to say I was still in a big process of change. Of course your whole life is a change but after I had left the cave in December 2000, so much was changing in my life that it was still noticeable years later – and the change would still go on! Away from the life of a guru and with that of course also slowly reflecting on religion and what is behind all that ‘guruism’ that I had left. I very well remember a funny situation with a friend in Germany which on one hand made me laugh but on the other hand made me question the sense of some religious rituals.

I had been making friends all over Germany while I was working there and of course there were a lot of alternative practitioners who had come to my lectures, programs and individual sessions, too, and among them some who became my friends. One of them was a man who expressed a big interest in organizing my program as well. I happily agreed and he thus invited me to come to Heidelberg where a friend of his had a center. While I worked there, we had some talk and I got to know that my new friend was building a new house not far away in a suburb of Heidelberg. The house was about to be finished in a few weeks and he asked me whether I could join their inauguration party and maybe even do a ceremony to bless the house. I agreed – that was nothing new to me and I thought I would happily do this for a friend.

This is how we gathered with several friends at the newly built house once it was ready. It was a nice group of about 30 people, several of whom I knew. We did a traditional way of blessing with Abhishek, which is a ritual in which you wash the statue of god with milk, honey and some other ingredients, asking for blessing. Everybody participated in the ritual and thus became a part of it while I was reciting mantras. In the end of this ritual, everybody normally gets to drink a glass of the milk with the other ingredients. It is tasty and of course it is believed to be blessed. A holy drink that gives you some of God’s energy, strength and good luck.

So when we were done, someone passed the bowl with the milk to my friend and he got up and walked out with it. The whole room was waiting, some of them knowing what would come now, in expectation of this nice drink which was supposed to be filled with positive energy. When my friend came back into the room though, he did not have many glasses full of this holy drink in this hands – no, he was carrying the empty bowl! What had happened and where was the blessed milk?

He had thrown it away! He had just not known what was supposed to be done with it and had poured it down the next best drain! Some people were seriously shocked when he said that – had he thrown away all the holy milk? When I saw his face however I had to laugh – he was obviously feeling guilty about it but he had just not known that it was holy and supposed to be drunk! With several of my friends I can still today laugh about this story – it was just too great how everyone was waiting for the holy drink which he simply poured there where you would pour dirty cleaning water!

I told you however that this sparked another thought: what is the meaning of holiness when the person doesn’t know about it? You do a ritual and you think the result is a holy drink but the next person, who has never done the ritual, thinks it is a mix of funny ingredients, nothing special. Does this ritual really make sense? Is it a blessing for the house even if it is now flowing through the pipes underneath it? Some people would even say it is the opposite – you poured holy milk down the drain, that must be bad for the house!

I actually never believed that a ritual could have a negative effect on you, no matter if you didn’t do it the way ‘it was supposed to be’! So wasn’t it all just a psychological effect?

It was a thought that came up, something the remained inside me. It may not have had an immediate effect on me but was a small piece of the big puzzle of change inside me.

Hindu Traditions 13 Days after Death – celebrating and showing off Money on Tehravi – 28 Dec 12

In the past days I have been writing about all those religious customs and traditions that Hindu families usually follow but which we refused. At the side I mentioned that there is a tradition of a feast on the 13th day after a death in a home. It is called ‘Terahvi’.

Religious people anyway spend the days after a death in their home with lots of rituals and daily a priest comes by to have them to one or the other ceremony. This day however is the most important one because it will end their state of impurity. There are rituals to do, again according to the instructions of a priest, and the main and most important thing to do on that day is to organize a feast.

At first you feed 13 Brahmans, give them clothes, give them money, pots and other household items. They are the most important guests and they get a whole lot of gifts along with the food. That’s not it however! Apart from that you then need to feed as many people as possible. People feed 50, 100, 500 or 1000 people, according to their social stand and financial position.

That is where the problems start for many people and why this practice is not only unpopular with unreligious people like us: this feast has become a kind of competition on who can feed the most people for the death of their loved ones. The more people you feed, the more you loved the person close to you. What however should people do who cannot afford that much? People who have taken loans even to just marry their daughters because they had to give high dowry? Imagine their situation when suddenly someone dies and they are expected to invite the whole town! It would completely ruin them!

Although there are people who are now opposing this tradition, it is still very normal and people were surprised when we told we would not do anything. For some people this obviously meant that they could boast with their feasts. One man told he had fed 900 people when his wife had died! Well, fine, what do you mean to say with that? That you are better in mourning than we are? If you like, you can show that off … We knew however that we would not want to organize a feast, a celebration, just 13 days after Ammaji’s death.

This is what these feasts often feel like! A celebration and people are happy that they are now not impure anymore. No, we would not have been able to do that and we don’t see why we would feel like inviting a lot of people and show others how much money we can spend on this occasion! We are not keen on showing off, we don’t believe we were impure in the complete time and we don’t do any rituals.

When people then ask us when they should come for this feast, we tell them that we don’t do any. Babbaji’s friends, too, who had heard of his old friend’s visit, asked and Babbaji denied, we would not do anything. In the end, none of this circle of people came at all and we are fully happy with that.

At the end, there is only one thought that remains: if the ceremonies of that day make you pure again and we did not do them, will we remain impure in religious people’s eyes? Will they never come again until we have done that ritual?

An interesting thought but I don’t think people will go to such extremes!

When 50 Years of Friendship are less important than religious Customs – 27 Dec 12

We had not told many people about the passing of our mother and rather allowed the news to spread on its own. Each of us had, however, naturally called his best friend and Babbaji had called two or three more people who had been close to Ammaji or him. It was the reactions of some of them which made me very upset with religious traditions – because they hurt my father!

On Tuesday morning, the day after Ammaji had left, we saw one of Babbaji’s friends walk in through our gate. Our pain was still very fresh and we were again and again looking after Babbaji to see how he was, now that he was alone. So when we saw this old friend, who had stayed at the Ashram for months at a time before, too, we were very happy and thankful. We thought what could be better than having an old friend there with whom Babbaji could talk about old times, share stories about Ammaji and just sit in company, alleviating the pain a bit!

Purnendu, who was outside, greeted him before he called Babbaji. We were all busy in reorganizing the tasks that Ammaji had always looked after, so we, the children, did not sit down with them. Just a few minutes later, Babbaji came to us in the office where we were just discussing something. He told us that we should see whether we had a room free upstairs where his friend could stay and asked us to prepare it so that he could send him there.

When he left the office however, his friend had gone. He had simply left! He had denied drinking water or tea, he did not stay, he had not even said goodbye to anybody! Everyone was just surprised and a bit shocked. And of course, my father’s feelings were visibly hurt! Why had he come at all, all the way from Delhi, just to take off again within ten minutes? He had nothing to do in Delhi either, so why could he not have stayed? And how come he just left without a word to anybody?

In the afternoon, this friend called and when my father clearly told him that he did not like such behavior. He answered that this was what they did in his family, his tradition and belief. ‘We go to meet but we don’t stay there, we don’t eat or drink but just come back!’ He continued that he would come on the 13th day after Ammaji’s death, when we would be clean again but my father told him not to – we would not be doing any rituals or a feast which religious people expect on that day.

When a common friend of Babbaji and this man called, Babbaji told him the whole story and said how much it had hurt him and the whole family. He told this man not to come at all, because he would do the same thing and it would cause even more grief.

We talked with my father about this incident and we all agreed that we did not need such people around in our time of grief. Our father obviously was suffering from loneliness after his wife’s death and even though we are around as much and Yashendu even slept in his room, it would have been great to have someone of his age here, someone to remember the past times when they all were younger. Instead of this support he gets insulted by religious superstition. 50 years of friendship is not as important to them as their religious customs.

Babbaji remembered how people had come in the time after my sister’s death, too, giving their advice on what we should be doing, which rituals had to be done, asking whether we did it this or the other way, trying to make us perform ceremonies we did not want to do.

So we decided to tell anybody who even asked such things on the phone not to come. We don’t need their unnecessary religious advice, we don’t need their insults – even if they are not caused by ill wishes but by stupid religious customs. What we could use would be their love, compassion and support. But if you cannot give that, you don’t need to come at all.

Ignoring Expectations for religious Rituals after the Death of my Mother – 26 Dec 12

Yesterday I shortly mentioned that we did not perform any rituals or ceremonies after the death of my mother which Hindus usually do. As we don’t consider ourselves Hindus and don’t believe in any benefit of all such traditions, we skipped all of that and just spent the days mourning our loss in our own way. Some people however asked about the cremation and according to which religion we performed the last rites for our mother, so I thought I tell you a little bit about all the things that people think we should have done and we did not do.

It actually started already in the morning of the 10th December. It had been only a few hours since Ammaji had passed, her body in the entrance hall of the Ashram. The day had started and the Ashram family members, who had all been sitting in the hall in a wake since about three o’clock, were now slowly joined by people from outside who had heard the news and came to say a final goodbye, express their condolence or help with whatever needed to be done.

We had already made up our minds about what we would do and had made arrangements for the woods to reach the burning place at the river on time and the pieces of the bier to reach the Ashram. Some of the men who had come knew how to bind the bier and prepared it while the women started preparing Ammaji’s body.

If you read a novel and would reach to this point where preparations for the cremation of a loved one were made in a traditional Hindu family, the author would describe how the family calls a priest, how the priest would give instructions on certain rituals to do before you leave and how the body should be prepared. At the burning place, too, there would be a lot of instructions, which can get very detailed and I am sure any author would love to create a dramatic picture out of it.

We did not do any of it and thus it was just very simple. Some of the people who had come however, could not help themselves but ask about some details. The women who were preparing Ammaji’s body for example asked for many different things, as it is usual to show all signs of a married woman on her body when she dies – and so they would do make-up, put colour on her hair, apply henna on her hands, put new bangles and even polish her nails! When such questions came up, we just told that we did not have any of this and whatever we had done was enough. A new Sari, a nice cloth on top – it was enough and whatever more you could have done would not have changed the fact that it was only her body that was left. We brought it down to the Yamuna.

The last rite for my mother was a family event, not a religious event. Unlike usual, my wife and daughter had come along, too, so that they could say their last good-byes. We three brothers performed the cremation without any priest, any rituals or any drama. The men of a family normally shave just before the ceremony but we did not do that. There is a big ceremony about how to light the fire and the prayers that you do with it. We just thought of our mother with much love, that was enough.

Usually, when the body and all wood is completely burned, the last flames are extinguished with water from the river. The Yamuna flows around Vrindavan and is considered holy, which makes people usually happy that they can use this holy water for their ritual. One religious person who was present at the cremation asked me to take water from the Yamuna and sprinkle it over the remaining flames. I answered that this was not the Yamuna but sewage water which I would not touch with my hands! Instead I took a bottle of mineral water from which I had been drinking – something else that you don’t usually do at a cremation – and poured it over the ashes. Other people did use water from the Yamuna and in the end we put the last bit of ashes into the river.

Several people asked us when we would do certain rituals and we told them we would not. Many knew well that we don’t follow any religion but still gave their advice on which ceremonies we should do. It may have been a very unholy event in the eyes of the religious people present. They may even say we were lacking respect for ignoring traditions and customs. For us however, it did not matter what they thought. Our mother died and nothing could bring her back, no ritual, no ceremony, no make-up, no shaving and no priest.

When my mother was alive, she fed the school and ashram children every day. When she left us, we closed the school for two days in her remembrance. Now the school is open again and the best way how we can respect the memory of our mother is to keep on feeding these children.

Serving poor children is our only religion.

Grieving and on top of it insulted and hurt by Religion and Superstition – 25 Dec 12

Religious feelings are very fragile and get hurt very quickly these days. People even take care that they wish ‘Merry Christmas’ only to Christians, thinking someone could get offended if he believed in another religion. People say it hurt their religious feelings. But what do you say when religion hurts someone’s feelings? When religious customs, beliefs and superstitions hurts someone’s heart? Are those beliefs appropriate? Is that religion appropriate? I have a recent and real example of such a case: the Hindu belief that the house where death has occurred is impure for thirteen days and the people in that house are untouchable until they have performed certain ceremonies on the thirteenth day after the death occurred.

This is the general custom and belief of people and in the past two weeks, since our mother died, we have made this experience. Obviously some people believe more in religious traditions than others do and according to that some believe it is three days, some believe it is ten days and some believe it is the complete thirteen days during which that place and those people are not pure.

Maybe you have problems imagining which effect that has, so I will give you some examples. For that period of time, people won’t enter that house. If they do enter, due to some work or maybe to bring something over or even to show condolence, they will shower and take off all their clothes before they enter their own home again, so as not to make their own place impure. If they come to your home, they won’t eat or drink at your place. This means for you that you cannot even offer water to your guests!

Just as there are differences in belief regarding the length of that time period, there are also some people who believe they can only visit on certain days. One of my friends, who came by on Friday, like several other people, told me he got to know on Monday, the day of the cremation, that Ammaji had expired. In a chatting voice he told ‘Well, on Tuesdays one doesn’t go anyway, on Wednesday I could have come but was busy. On Thursdays you don’t go to an impure place and so I came today because tomorrow again, it won’t be good to go.’

See what religion does! In those times when you feel that you need your friends the most, in the time of grief which is difficult to pass, your close friends don’t come to meet you because their religious belief does not allow it! Even if they live nearby, they won’t come! One friend even came up to our gate but he did not come in! There is not less love – the only reason is religious customs and superstition! They come, but only when we will be pure again in their eyes.

That is another question: usually you get pure after performing certain rituals. We don’t however believe in any of this and have not done any ceremony. Does this mean that we will be impure for them forever? They will come but how will they justify it for themselves? We have not done anything to become pure – we should still be untouchable for you.

It is not the untouchability that hurts my feelings and it is also not my friends – it is the religious belief and the incredible superstition! Because my friends are only the slaves of those traditions and customs, they are not able to take their decision themselves.

Well, I decided to blame these customs, religion and superstition for my pain and vow to keep a stainless love flowing in my heart for all of my friends.

Celebrating Diwali – not for Worship but for Happiness – 13 Nov 12

Today is the big day that all children – and many adults, too – have been waiting for the whole year long: it is Diwali. Diwali, or Deepawali, is the festival of lights and for half of India the last day of the year. As I told you yesterday already, the Ashram atmosphere is one of joyous anticipation at the moment. In the afternoon we will start setting the oil lamps which we will light in the evening. Everyone will wear new clothes and we will eat sweets and enjoy the festivities. What about the religious part of this holiday, you ask? Well, let me explain you my thoughts about this.

You may all very well know that I don’t believe in any rituals or ceremonies. On Diwali, Hindus worship the Goddess Lakshmi and ask her for her blessing which is said to bring prosperity and wealth. I don’t believe that lighting a candle in front of a statue or a painting will make you any richer than you already are. I also don’t believe that there is any special blessing that you receive from putting flowers in front of the statue or placing the sweets at the altar before eating them.

Nevertheless, when my parents and my grandmother, who are still religious, have done their preparations for their ritual and ceremony, they call the rest of the family together. I, just like my wife and brothers, join the Ashram family there, in front of the statues. Surely not for worshipping but simply for the spirit of the celebration. Our parents know that none of us is religious anymore. We have talked and they know our belief and attitude. I would not mind not having the ritual in our home but they would. For them it belongs to the day, it is a part of the celebration and seeing their joy and happiness, we join them. I don’t see it as a religious act, I see this as a part of the family celebration.

For me this could take place on any other day, too. I don’t mind celebrating Diwali although I don’t see myself as a Hindu. In the same way we celebrate Christmas although we are not Christian. Of course, with my anti-religious attitude I could refuse celebrating anything that is connected with religion and instead sit grumpily in my home, angry about the world that celebrates. That would mean however that the reasons to celebrate would be drastically reduced and I would be miserable throughout most of the year because people here celebrate a lot of religious occasions. I don’t see why I should make myself miserable! Instead I just enjoy, take life as it comes while taking care not to raise any superstitions.

The important part of the celebration is simply walking in our garden and enjoying the many lights, eating a festive dinner with lots of sweets and taking pictures with everyone in their beautiful clothes. Spreading love, celebrating the evening and being together.

A Happy Diwali to all of you!

Every Non-Believer is too stupid to understand Religion! – Really? – 5 Nov 12

You all know that I have often criticized religion and many things that belong to it in my blog. I wrote against pieces of scriptures, against rituals, against different ways of worship, against problems that I see with temples and even against high religious leaders. While people mostly agree that there could be someone human misusing his powers, when I talk about the lacking sense or even harm of some rituals or the obvious stupidity of verses in scriptures, many people say that there I have a problem understanding it the right way. I would like to write today about this argument that everyone who criticizes religion is simply too stupid to understand religion.

Let me explain their argument once more: they believe when someone points out a mistake in scriptures or questions the sense of a ritual, it is not the scripture or the ritual that is wrong. There is no mistake in the scriptures, there is a mistake in that person’s thinking. Religion has no problem, that is fully fine. The person who voiced doubt just did not do a correct interpretation of what was written and simply misunderstood. That can happen to anyone, they say, don’t worry, we can explain you how it is correct, just come to our church, temple, mosque or scripture class. This is how many religious people defend their religion.

If you give such arguments, have you ever had the idea that those who don’t accept religion in their lives could be intelligent people, too? By saying that they misunderstand all those topics is like saying they are stupid, at least less intelligent than you, because you are able to understand it all perfectly well!

The truth is however that they are well able to understand what is written in scriptures and what is happening in rituals. They see it, they understand it but they cannot accept it with closed eyes. They think about it, consider it and if they see something they feel is wrong, they confront you with it. They actually make an effort and try to understand what you believe – not blindly but with reason and intelligence. And if they see nonsense, they refuse accepting it.

If you, at this point, practically tell them that they are stupid, that they did not understand it and maybe even say they should ‘simply trust’, it is absolutely no wonder that they become anti-religious. At that point they understand that religion manipulates and asks you to follow without deciding for yourself. So they decide not to go the path of religion.

If you look at my personal example, you will understand even better that there is no problem understanding religion. I have studied scriptures, religious books and different interpretations for thirty years of my life. I have preached religion as a profession. You cannot say that I don’t understand it! I have explained it to thousands of people, so if I now talk about the flaws, the mistakes, the controversies and irregularities, it is not because I am not well informed. Maybe not everyone looks at it in detail but I did and I know what I am talking about, so your argument is not valid here.

Don’t think everyone else is stupid. They, too, have a mind and you may even want to consider seeing your belief from their eyes once. They have tried yours and did not find it acceptable – now it is your turn!

Experiencing the Ashram without wrong Expectations – 11 Oct 12

At the Ashram we are very busy at the moment – we are having the house full of participants of the Ayurveda Yoga Holiday and everybody is enjoying their time together. The participants have their massages, do their yoga and in between they just take part in the Ashram life. Yesterday evening I talked with one of the participants about being here. She loves her time here and said what a beautiful place the Ashram was, with the children who live here, those who come to learn at school and the daily massages that she receives. She asked ‘Who would not enjoy that?’

Well, I explained her about our experiences and what kind of people would really not be very happy here. There are religious, spiritual and superstitious people who come to India for having a religious experience. They go to an Ashram because they want to be in a daily schedule of rituals and ceremonies. They want to go to that Ashram in that time when the guru is there so that they can get his blessing and maybe witness a miracle. But even if they go when he is not present, they have a daily program of chanting, praying and offering at the altar. In this way they get their blessing, too.

This is not what we can give anybody. We don’t have a temple. We don’t have a four o’clock morning ceremony and we don’t do chanting or rituals. We don’t even have a guru! No, there is nothing in this place that could satisfy such expectations.

We have had guests here at the Ashram who had come with wrong expectations and who then obviously could not enjoy their free time or playing with the children. They did not feel like joining our family for nice talks among friends but wanted me to give a speech about spiritual enlightenment or similar topics.

This is how we started giving as much information about us online as possible. Who are we? How are we different? What can you expect here and what should you not expect? I even wrote a diary entry characterizing those people whom we welcome and one for those whom we don’t welcome.

Finally, when someone gets in touch over email, the other one usually gives a short introduction of himself and if we get the idea that someone could have different expectations, we explain right away who we are. Or better, who we aren’t. We tell people straight-out that we believe our Ashram is not the right place for them and it would not be a nice experience for them and neither for us if they came here.

With this step, things changed and less and less people came who did not know about our philosophy of freedom and non-religion. More and more people came who were actually looking for an Ashram free of the religious atmosphere, a place where they are not forced to believe in a guru or take part in ceremonies but where they can organize their day the way they wish and simply get to know a loving Indian family.

I am happy to hear of our guests that they came because they read that we are how we are. After all, we welcome them in our home and it feels good to be with people who agree with your main ideas of life. And then it is nice to share time with each other, to talk, to laugh, to play, to dance and celebrate.

Read experiences of guests at the Ashram

Religion kills – Karva Chauth Fasting takes Life of unborn Baby – 19 Oct 11

I am writing these lines right now while I really feel sad and angry at the same time.

A few days ago, on 15th October, was Karva Chauth, a day of importance for Hindu women. Two years ago I wrote about the rituals of that day in my diary and I explained that women fast for the health of their husband the whole day long. This means that they don’t eat and don’t drink until the moon comes out in night, which happens at about nine or ten o’clock. Two years ago I wrote already that I don’t like this concept and don’t belief that there is anything good in that idea of fasting. The husband does not get any benefit if his wife is thirsty and hungry and there is of course no fasting day on which husbands stay hungry for their wives.

One day after Karva Chauth one of our employees called. His wife had been pregnant, in her 8th month and she had been fasting. She drank no drop of water nor did she eat even one bite of food the whole day long. In the evening, complications started and he brought her to hospital. There the doctors told that the child had died. Why? Because she fasted.

It makes you sad, angry, upset and feel only bad. You feel pity with this couple but at the same time you think how they could have done that to the baby? How come you follow such a tradition even if you are pregnant?

I know however how much pressure society can give, especially when religion and religious rituals are concerned. There are always people in the surrounding of a woman who urge her to do fasting and believe it is a good thing. Even if a woman is pregnant and has the feeling that she would rather not like to keep the fast, she has pressure from her surrounding to do it. What could be going on in this woman’s heart and mind? If she tells others about her concerns, that it may harm her baby, other women say ‘Oh, but I have done that, too, it doesn’t do any harm at all!’ If she decides not to do a fast, people will think she is weak and cannot even stay hungry for one day. Or they believe she doesn’t love her husband. Or, if something happens to him, she will get the blame for it. If he has an accident in future, people will point the fingers on her and say it happened because she did not keep the fast.

So a woman stops eating for a day, even though she knows that she has another life to feed in her belly. She doesn’t eat nor drink because of the pressure of tradition and society. And the child, an unborn life, dies.

Now people in this woman’s surrounding may say that she should not have done that but what did they do before it happened? Who was there to tell her that this is a stupid and useless tradition? See what big prize this couple has paid for learning this lesson! She is still in hospital and the doctors are considering doing an operation to remove the body of their dead child. He was crying here and I feel sad for him while I have all those emotions about this stupid tradition.

I am obviously very emotional about this topic as my wife is pregnant, too. She also told me how urgently the body calls for water or food when she did not drink or eat even for a few hours. It is unimaginable for me or her how you can ignore this call of the body for food, nutrition and water.

Even if you are not pregnant, it is never right to do this kind of fast. When you are hungry, you should eat, when you are thirsty, you should drink! Eat healthy food and take care of what you give to your body but nourish it properly! And if you have another life inside you, you have to take care of it!

Unfortunately this Karva Chauth has become even more popular these days! Instead of reducing it due to the lack of sense, media has promoted the rituals connected with it. In my childhood there were never any programs about this day and this year you could switch around the TV channels and everywhere you could hear about Karva Chauth celebrations and rituals! It is simply wrong of media to promote a religious tradition that can harm someone so badly! They do it because they simply need something to talk about or write about. This is why such a harmful tradition is glamourized!

Last year I had a big talk with my mother about this, who had been doing this fast her whole life long. I told her that she was getting older and that she needed to think of her health and body because we wanted her around some longer. She understood and accepted my point of view which made us all happy. Now she will not do fasting on that day anymore. I am very proud of my parents for making decisions against old-fashioned and outdated traditions. They are able to stop rituals that they had been doing their whole lives long and I am very happy about this.