07 August, 2006


*Warning* This post cannot be viewed by men between the ages of 20 and 60, because that will disturb it's celibacy (?).

Flirting with controversy
We make moves radical
Oh, Lord, have mercy
That our fate be not comical.

I was inspired to write this post because of this controversy, which pertains to a famous temple in India not allowing female devotees between the ages of 10 and 50. In the "new age", where do we draw the line between dogmatism and tradition? That's the point of my post here.

Firstly, what is tradition? It is a "
custom: a specific practice of long standing". I have this basic outlook: The world keeps changing, we must change along with it. This change may be good or bad. We must learn, keep track of the good changes, and keep changing. To try new things and not being bound by custom is essential. But, there are bad changes too, and it's necessary to keep one's wits about one and a good sense of right and wrong. (Here, we again return to "Right" and "Wrong"... there begins another big question.)

I think a tradition survives for a long period of time, because of two reasons: (a) People believe that it's the "Right" thing to do, or (b) People are bound to it by matters of faith. Both give sufficient license to us to look at old traditions in a new light. The second one is the more dogmatic of the two, because people tend to overlook reason when they believe in something like spirituality, or religion. But even when people have reviewed a tradition for centuries, the tradition may turn out to be nonsense in this age.

Time for some examples:
Consider the geocentric view of the universe before Galileo. That was a tradition, but the attitude of the 15th century scientists was different: they believed in experimental proof. Viewed in this new light, the heliocentric model appeared to be more realistic.

Festivals. They are an example of a "good" tradition. Festivals allow people to bond and celebrate, and look at life positively. The world would be a sadder place without them. I think, in fact, festivals have become even more important now, as they are a way of getting out of hectic life and throw away negativism. In some cultures, people are supposed to take care of their parents, which, I believe, warrants merit as a good tradition.

For the third example, consider the Sabarimala controversy linked above. That's an example of a tradition that seems dogmatic and frankly, silly today. Now we are no longer blinded by the belief that women are somehow inferior to men. It is an example of a tradition which should be discarded.

Ring in the good, throw out the bad
Bring in the happy, throw out the sad
The new shall rule
Only the unthinking fool
Ring in the lad, show out his dad!

(After an infinitely superior poem by Lord Tennyson... here.)

It is only through intelligent change that we can help humanity progress.


  1. it is sick, the way the temple authorities at sabrimala are behaving. the tradition is actually to not allow any woman who could be menstruating. so a girl or a woman who is having her menses does not have access to the lord. though i dont care about the tradition, it is sick to watch the temple authorities raking up the issue now and gunning for jayamala's head. isn't religion more about forgiveness than retribution?
    in the Times of India, today there was an article that raised the same concerns... it says, and i quote:
    Over the years, many aspects of the pilgrimage have been compromised in the name of convenience. The comfort of a motorway has reduced the pilgrimage to a short trek, unless one prefers the cathartic experience of meeting Ayyappan after walking the old, arduous forest path. However, the ban on women has continued.
    Religion is all about choosing waht is convinient to you. ' Love thy neighbour', 'dont speak ill', 'universal brotherhood' , such things are quite difficult to adopt and follow. holding on to religious symbols, traditions, and archaic customs is much easier.....

  2. Wow! It's weird to read about people who are THAT... fanatical about religion. I mean in my class at school like, 70% of people said they followed no real religious beliefs. And if they did have a religion they didn't really feel that strongly about it. It's strange to see the other end of the spectrum.