The other day, one of my ‘Facebook-friends’ while wishing everyone happy ‘navratras’ (the nine auspicious days in respect for the Goddess) also commented upon the number of days left for people to once again enjoy all the non-vegetarian food and alcoholic drinks which they were unable to consume during these nine days.
This led me to remember how I witnessed crowds of people literally mobbing the non-veg eating outlets and wine shops just the night before the start of ‘navratras’. And I have been observing this for a few years now. So, I just remembered a small incident in my hostel during my college days.
Being the avid foodie and non-veg fan I always was, I used to go out for dinner with many of my batch mates quite frequently. So, one evening as I emerged from my room, I saw one of them in the corridor having an animated discussion with someone on his phone. As I went up to him and asked him whether he would come along with me for some non-veg dinner, I was a bit taken aback by his reaction.
He suddenly removed the phone from his ear and gave me such a wide-eyed look as if I had just informed him about the latest murder I had committed. He then held both of his ears in his fingers and put his tongue out and blurted something about it being sacrilege to even mention non-veg during ‘navratras’. And then he returned to his animated discussion with the person on the other end of the phone, continuing to mouth the worst expletives a sane person can possibly mouth.
This made me wonder… whether the Goddess made it a point to actually come out of her heavenly abode during these nine days and looked out for people who would be consuming alcohol or/and non-veg secretly, and hence punish them for it.
Another little incident I remember is about when I went to get some books from an old friend of mine. As I made myself comfortable in his room, he brought the customary glass of cold drink with my favorite chocolate biscuits for me. (I don’t touch tea !) When I asked him about his glass, he informed me that he was on a fast as it was ‘Janamashtami’ (the Birth Day of Lord Krishna). I oh okayed as he went again to get the books which I needed.
In the meanwhile, his little nephew, who was just about six or seven years old, came in playing with his new toy car. As he stood near me, I offered him a biscuit to which he shyly shook his head. But on my repeated insisting, he finally took it and started munching. When my friend returned with the books, he exclaimed in surprise on seeing his nephew enjoy the biscuit. On my asking the reason for his reaction, he informed me that his nephew shouldn’t be eating the biscuit as he was on a fast too.
All I could say was, “Excuse me… ?!?!?” He then told his nephew to go away and not to tell his mom about the biscuit adventure.
Now, I wonder, how could a little kid of six control his urge (more so his hunger) on seeing a delicious choco biscuit after being deprived of food since morning. Did he even know why he wasn’t being allowed to eat ? But yes, he would eventually grow into an adult who would doggedly observe fasts and expect others to too without even thinking about the sense behind it all.
I wished to discuss this with my friend. But I knew it’s futile to discuss the merits or demerits of someone’s faith with him or her. Though if I would have tried, the discussion would have gone pretty much on the following lines.
Me : Why do you observe fast on ‘Janamashtami’ ?
Him : Because it is Lord Krishna’s birthday.
Me : Okay. Do you think Lord Krishna loves you considering we all are the Lord’s children ?
Him : Of course. We all are his children.
Me : Okay. Suppose it was your birthday. Would you like your children to keep a fast for you ? Or would you rather take them to a nice restaurant and treat them ?
I’m sure he must have an answer to that too. But for me, I can’t think of anything to answer for that.
Which makes me wonder why do we keep fasts. It’s not about having it on a particular day or a set of days. Neither is it about respect towards a particular God or Goddess. But shouldn’t the basis of a fast be the practice of controlling one’s urges to indulge in things instead of putting it on some God and expressing helplessness in God’s name ?
Should we need a God to scare us from preventing to indulge in something bad just for some specific days ? And if we abstain from such things for some days, does that make us any more devoted or religious ?
I’m a non-vegetarian. Usually vegetarians would accuse me of sacrilege if I consume non-veg during ‘holy’ days. But I never touch alcohol and never will. But that does not provoke me to judge someone just because he or she consumes alcohol irrespective of when they do it. It’s everyone’s personal choice to what they consume.
And also, how do we know that a particular God abhors the consumption of a particular food or drink ? So why is it about non-veg and alcohol ? Why don’t people stop smoking during such fasts too ? Or why don’t people abstain from oily, fatty and fried junk food which really affect one’s health.
Is it because non-veg foods and alcohol are considered bad ? I would accept if someone would relate non-vegetarian food with the killing of innocent animals. I agree. But alcohol is from plant origin. Then why is it considered wrong to consume it during fasts ?
I’m not favoring the consumption of alcohol (as I myself never touch it). But I’m questioning people’s sensibilities about their views regarding particular beliefs.
And, are our Gods and Goddesses so ‘human-minded’ that they would get upset by what we eat or drink or how we dress during certain occasions ? Is it not our own senseless belief which we just blame on the imagined likes and dislikes of our Gods ? But if you so much as even question people about this, you get to face their wrath.
I like eating non-veg and I consume it any of the 365 days of the year. I dislike alcohol and I never consume it irrespective of the occasion. It’s as simple as that. Not consuming something for some days wouldn’t take me any nearer to God. And consuming something on other days wouldn’t take me away from God either.
I just wonder how our Gods and Goddesses would be upset if we consume particular things on some particular days. And on the other hand, the same Gods and Goddesses wouldn’t care a thing if we use abusive language, watch corrupt tv shows and plot and plan against each other during those very days.
But yes, if I question people’s sensibilities on this, they would surely get furious and label me as a non-believer.
(Image courtesy : Google Images)