Let me clarify my position on the God issue. I am an agnostic leaning towards atheism. My childhood has been plagued with screaming fits quite akin to the child in Omen, as my parents asked me to accompany them to the temple. I went through the poonal procedure as a good tam bram, all the while lamenting that there would have been a much better use for the money than spending it on a back-scratcher. (That joke is lost on non brams, so please find the nearest bram and watch them laugh in agreement.)
So when we had sarvajanik festivals, I often complained of the noise pollution, and of the secret vote which clearly granted the responsibility of leading the aarti to the person first to get kicked out of Indian Idol auditions. I hated waking up early for the worships, and reviled being made to sit amidst the purposeful pollution that is so unique to Hindus. I went through childhood and young adulthood hating festivals and anything associated with worship. I know most of you devout ones despise me now, and that I am going to lose a significant portion of the small audience this blog has generated, but I need to get this off my chest. So, before swearing me off as a non-believing infidel, read on.
I have spent a year in the big apple now, where there are enough Indians, but there is no forced festival socializing. I accepted that warmly. As I was going through my roommate’s iPod Touch (let the drooling begin) and listening to my new Bose headphones (let the drooling continue), I noticed the Ganesh-aarti on his playlist. The memories flowed as I played it. I played it again. Maybe it was just the sound quality, but I could not get enough of it. I could remember the Ganesh idol in our locality, and the loud songs of worship that blared over the sound system.
I did not believe it possible, but that song is on my playlist now. No, I have not been converted in any way, so all you believers, do not thrust your imaginary friends down my throat. I will say though, that I appreciated the song on a pure artistic level. There is something in the festivals for the non-believers too. That is what makes them so deep and mysterious.
I was told not so long ago, by a person I regard as brilliant, that atheism is a part of Hinduism. I did not see the sense of it on a religious level. I can somehow understand it now on a spiritual level.
So, to the surprise of the people who know me, and to some chagrin of fellow agnostics, Sukhkarta Dukhharta varta vighnachi…