Monthly Archives: March 2012

Playing with Gods

We in India are pretty friendly with gods. Not only that we have countless to choose from according to one’s own tastes, the relationship is pretty much personal and informal. We not only worship them but also demand things, accuse, avoid and even bribe them. Most of our gods are not those serious looking types, but are quite humane in many ways, playing pranks. Gods play a very important role in the everyday life on any Indian- you can’t find a vehicle in India without a god’s photo or idol on the dashboard (If you ever wondered why there aren’t as many accidents in this chaotic traffic!)

But then we also try to fool around with gods. Not in a big way (we are also afraid of them) but more as a matter of convenience (and gods do understand that!). Here are two examples I came across:

1. We had planned a trip to Rameshwaram (this is famous Shiva temple located at the southern most point of India) sometime last year. Everything was planned; but then we came to know that back at my hometown a cousin of mine was expecting a baby anytime. According to our belief system, if a child is born in the family, one is not allowed to visit a temple or perform any religious rites for few days ( as a matter of fact 10 days if the child is male and 3 days for females).

We were slightly worried if the trip will have to be cancelled. There was every chance that the child would be born and we will have to call of the trip.

Then my wife gave me a great idea. She asked me to request my cousin’s family not to inform us if the child was born before we left. She observed that there was no sin if we visit the temple unaware. Of course I didn’t do it and as for our luck, we made the trip without any problems.

2. A friend of mine who had been to Hajj (the pilgrim to Holy Mecca) started growing his beard. When I met him few days back, I curiously asked him about the significance of this and he explained to me that once you perform the pilgrim to Mecca, you are supposed to let your beard grow. But there is a rule; it’s expected to be grown till your chest (you should be able to hold it in your fist).

I met this guy again today (that was the trigger for this post). I was amused to see that he had trimmed his beard. I asked him if he decided to go against the rules laid down in the scriptures.

No, he explained. The rules were very clear- you are not supposed to shave, you have to let your beard grow and there was a maximum length to which it could grow. But there is no mention about how short it can be. So my friend trimmed his beard very short. This definitely looked much better in a corporate environment, but the crux is that he actually found a way out without going against the rules.

Gods also love fun!