What does Having a Religion Connote?

This was a question my dad brought up a few weeks back when i was meeting my parents for a quick meeting. He was updating me on what all the matrimonial sites results for my account had been, and since i hadnt allowed him to put up a religion on my profile there were inquiries from all sects! This seemed to really irritate him and he was almost regretting the “modern day education” he had got me into!

But really what does a religion connote to all of us? For my father being a high end hindu brahmin is almost like having a huge stamp or something. He has tried impressing upon me and my brother on how important it is for us to realize what it means to be from such a sect. Now i am a confused person, at the age of 24 i dont think i am religious but i do have a small place of all the idols in my room (mothers can be very strong on imposing such things) and yet i dont pray. I like lightening a lamp but, because it has something very beautiful about it and the first lamp of the evening looks very pretty, and so it has no religious connotation. So when i go home and see my mom do the whole ritual of praying etc every morning and evening its very intriguing. I ask her what it means for her, she picked up my fathers way of religious practices post marriage and it amazes me how inspite of being a pakistani migrant and all she today associates herself with being a staunch brahmin!

Religion probably is the most read about, discussed stuff around lately but really what does it connote to any one of us?What does it do to anybody’s identity? Where does it lead any of us?Does religious identity become bigger than our identities as individuals?

I think the whole religious identity talk stems from the fact that every generation has added to the whole concept of  religion is one and all we got and refuses to let go of perceptions. As a little child we expose him/her to religious ceremonies more than drawing books, every grandfather/mother love to see the lile toddler sitting in the puja room and listening to the sermons instead of maybe little children stories. As the kid grows up the elders have difficulty to accept when the child once in a while questions, “why do we read the ramayana/koran/granthsahib?” Add to this the intolerant world we have harvested around us and we have religion as that one prominent fixture which generation after generation is used as identity mark. So then why be surprised when we have religious fragments snowballing every little issue into a religious one and why discuss what MNIK has become!

Every individual has the right to religion and also a right to change his religion as is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and similarly for nationality ( Art 18 and Art15). This assumes significance because essentially every one can change from one belief to another and thus it is possible that a lot of people who belong to one faith change to another. Yet we staunchly fix ourselves to one religion, to one faith-why? Maybe because no generation wants to believe that next generation can have a faith system grounded on principles like humanity, community oneness, issues, causes. One generations denial to let go means that ideologies are imposed on the thinking of the new generations and innovation, in terms of new relationships forging on grounds of trust,companionship,way forwards, doesn’t happen. Religion definitely does have strong roots in human civilization but does it necessarily imply that it has to be something to everyone. I don’t think so, i donot enter a temple or a gurudwara or a church because its religious, but maybe because the places look pretty, at times because they are peaceful,nice to sit in and at times give me more people to observe. But when i meet someone and only give my first name do i leave behind a part of me which should be important? I dont think so. I think we have to realize that for states to really surge ahead its important we allow innovation and discovery in forging of relationships and building new grounds for understanding of links.
Religion today probably does have a lot to connote to us and the generations behind us and maybe we aren’t too sure what it connotes to us. Yet we are ready to be taken away by the religious manifestations of the societal discourse and instill a thinking that probably isn’t even ours!
I guess it’s time that we move beyond being secular and understand what really do such things connote to us. To me religion is not a part of my identity-what is my identity is probably that of being a human and being brought up in army a national of all the identities. Maybe that can help me forge relationships that are more true and engage on the premise of ideas, thinking and change.


Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog is a digital youth culture magazine dedicated to your stories and ideas.

Thought Catalog

Thought Catalog is a digital youth culture magazine dedicated to your stories and ideas.

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