A couple of months back I had gone to Gokarna in Karnataka. Gokarna is the place where the only Temple housing Shiva’s Atma Linga, is situated. Gokarna is also a Mukti Kshetra where people come to perform the final rituals of their loved ones.


Here I saw a sight which was extremely tragic on many fronts. A young boy, maybe in his late teens had come there to perform the rituals probably for his recently deceased parent(s), because he had come with his Mama (uncle). He did not even know how to wear the Veshthi (long two-ply dhoti) and the Priest very patiently draped it around him. Then before the rituals started, the Priest told the boy to put the “gopi-chandana” in the required places on the body. The boy looked absolutely blank. The boy’s Mama too seemed clueless on how to guide the boy. Again the Priest patiently told him about the spots on the body where the paste had to be applied. All the rituals were done with utmost Shraddha by the overwhelmed youngster, but I could say that he had never done a single rituals ever in his life before. Nor had he ever seen anyone do them.


A while ago I had attended the pre-wedding rituals of another youngster. When the Priest told him to take “Achamana” (water in the hand to sip), he took the spoonful of water in the right hand and put it over his left and sipped it from the left hand. The Priest looked ready to run away because he realized that for two days it would be on him completely to see to it that all the rituals were done properly, with no help from the groom. Right enough, when he told the groom-to-be to do “Duraachamana”, the boy moved the vessels away from himself thinking that the Priest had told him to keep it “door” (afar).


It comes as no surprise to me now when I see youngsters thinking that it is alright to have “vegetarian” foods like onion, garlic, drumsticks, mushrooms, etc. even on holy days, because they have no clue about what is tamasic, rajasic or sattvik foods at all. In fact Samosas, Chocolates, Cakes are offered to our Devi Devatas as Bhog and given to visitors as Prasad, during Ganesh Chaturti, Navratri, etc. I doubt if people even know what constitutes as Prasad any more. I have been told that Samosas look like Modaks and hence Ganapati Bappa loves them. When I told one person that even the Peda made in the shape of Modak is not the traditional Modak, he thought that I was mad. I wonder what would have been his reaction if I would have told him that Ganapati Bappa is Amod-priya ie. He loves seeing true contentment and bliss in the mind of the devotee & that is His blessing, not Modaks as Prasad!


I have seen Mothers-in-law refusing to share traditional recipes of dishes which they make during Festivals, just so that no one can make the laddoo/chakli as good as they did. After their death, daughters-in-law offer chocolates as Bhog to the Devas because that is what they are good at making and that is what the children “love” to eat. Our Devi-Devatas may please adjust! It is a fact that all over the country, traditional Bhog items made lovingly at home are now being replaced by sweets brought from the closest Halwai shop or by sweets/savouries which are not even of Bharatiya origin.


The point I’m trying to make here is that parents need to understand that it is IMPERATIVE to teach their children about Rituals, Pujas, traditions, wearing of traditional clothes, symbols, traditional foods, cooking of simple Bhog & Naivedya to our Devi Devatas, etc. right from childhood. Do not wait till they have grown up or have reached adulthood or till they are married. Have atleast one annual Puja in your home where they atleast learn to make Panchaamrit. Children today do not know the ingredients of a Panchaamrit and/or a Panchagavya and how important they are during Pujas. How do you hope for Hinduism to survive if children do not learn even the basic things?

The other fact is that when one doesn’t know the ABC of rituals, they become cumbersome to follow. So obviously the rituals will be eased out of our lives slowly & in the coming decades there might be very few who can even guide those who want to do the rituals. Hindus have a lot of rituals, all of which work in unseen ways. Children have questions and parents usually end up refusing to answer the questions either because they themselves don’t know about it or because they want to take the easy way out. But by doing this, they are hastening the death of the most ancient civilization, not to mention, the most scientific one which is worthy of respect and awe. In fact, when parents do not introduce their culture to their children, they give them enough reason to turn “Woke”. No point in crying about it later.


Note: Image taken randomly from the Net.

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