Good rituals and traditions lend a unique character to social fabric | india | Hindustan Times
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Good rituals and traditions lend a unique character to social fabric

Irrelevant. Regressive. Absurd. Aren't these the first adjectives that come to mind when one thinks of religious rituals and traditions? Those time-consuming, boring and often ostentatious pageantries no one has the patience for.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2014 08:51 IST

Irrelevant. Regressive. Absurd. Aren't these the first adjectives that come to mind when one thinks of religious rituals and traditions? Those time-consuming, boring and often ostentatious pageantries no one has the patience for. In today's India, where life powers on faster than Metro trains do, traditions and rituals must seem like those obsolete rusty cogs that just don't fit in. Those time-warps that slow down the pace of life. Those unnecessary practices that are just a waste of time. But let's take a moment here and consider -- are rituals and traditions truly irrelevant in today's age?

Astonishingly, the answer is a resounding no, if the big, bad but utterly indispensable social media has anything to say about it. Take the recent case of Raksha Bandhan (circa 2014) for instance. Not only was #RakshaBandhan trending on Twitter and Facebook all day (and the next), I am sure the whopping number of Raksha Bandhan selfies (complete with dazzling smiles and wrists full of glittering rakhis) uploaded on social media websites created a record of sorts!

I could throw mind-boggling numbers at you to prove my point that rituals and traditions are anything but irrelevant today, but do we really need to look any further than around us to witness it? As we head toward a slow but steady demise of the Indian Nuclear Family, (a phenomenon that hijacked our society at the cusp of the new millennium), there's more distance separating families, lesser time and an innate craving to hold on to the familiar past.

That is why, more than ever before, you'll see distant relatives converge from different parts of the country (sometimes even different parts of the world) just to attend family functions and celebrations. That is why, you'll see the country's artisans hard at work making Ganesh idols and diyas, when festivals like Ganesh Chathurthi or Diwali are round the corner. That is why, you'll see people travelling half way across the country just to sink their teeth into the scrumptious Haleem during Ramadan. And, that is also why you'll still see little kids not just clued in but actively invested in being a part of the traditional rigmarole.

It is true that some rituals and traditions seem absurd and regressive. But today, they are also in a constant state of flux, being moulded as our society evolves. So while some traditional practices that are too rigid (or too barbaric) have been discarded, others that are dynamic continue to thrive and evolve over time. And it is these practices that lend that unique character to our social fabric.

Ergo, in today's world of ever growing distances, traditions and religious rituals act as the glue that keeps the past connected with the present. Traditions and rituals form an important part of the legacy and knowledge that is bequeathed by the new generation from the old. They keep the cycle of going. They help not just to break the monotony of the cold present, they also lend faith to us that the future is not entirely scary and unknown when we are armed with our familiar tropes of rituals and traditions. And that is a comforting thought indeed!

(Saloni Rohatgi is a Bangalore-based bibliophile, marketing professional, wannabe wordsmith)

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