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GenX funda: God is cool, he's a pal

A survey conducted by shows that 68 per cent of youth today believe in God, 43 per cent visit the temple everyday and 60 per cent admit going to the temple gives them mental satisfaction.

india Updated: Nov 03, 2005 20:21 IST

It's a common refrain: Youngsters today are becoming westernised. Parents lament, "Ask them to accompany you to the temple and they pull a long face." But all these may just be little else than popular perceptions.

A survey conducted by shows that 68 per cent of youth today believe in a higher power, 43 per cent visit the temple everyday and around 60 per cent admit going to the temple gives them mental satisfaction. They want to show their devotion to god, they say.

The survey also shows that rather than making them supertitious a faith in a higher being, visiting temples, and wearing religious symbols such as a kada or a sacred thread gives them a sense of strength.

Clinical psychologist Seema Sharma says, "In the stress ridden life of ours,we need to fall back on something for which we are sure that it is more powerful than us.Developing faith on any one relevant thing in our life is mandatory. Psychological anarchy is prevented if we have something on which we can put our trust to."

It was a decade or so back that a trendy youngster would consider it middle-class to admit that they kept fasts and visited the temple. It was in vogue to sneer at the temple-going variety, though the snob brigade might be doing it themselves.

But not now. Things have changed. "Children have become more logical. They believe in god but as far as they find any logic in this because they have started analysing the situation. They are open to any kind of discussion so they don't shy away from to be ritualistic as few years back they were, says Madhu Kansal, Principal, Delhi International School.

They wear their kadas, and crosses with a confidence and don't hide it inside their tees, though around 45 per cent will not wear religious prints because they feel it is demeaning to their religion and 36 per cent will not use religious tones as ringtones for their mobile phones. Their logic: "Why display?"

Conservative it may sound but a huge difference in the attitude of today's youth towards god is visible. Calling god nicknames would be unthinkable for the older generation who hold the entity in awe and fear. Not so with the youth today. They seem to blend their orthodox beliefs with a fun quotient perfectly, in their relationship with god. For them: God is "cool."

Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj says: "Youngsters are not hypocrites. They don't believe in displaying but believe in truth, are ready to face anything and have a friendly relationship with god. They have given nicknames to their favourte Gods such as Roly Poly For lord Ganesh and Hanu for Hanuman. Gods are their buddies."

What also emerges from the survey is that many visit temples and observe rituals because the family insists. Says Pinky Nigam, a student of Hindu college: "Family plays a crucial role and perhaps is one of the most significant determinants of a child's religious discourse."

Aishwarya Sakhuja agrees: "Yes, you will see me with a dupatta on my head in a pooja but that's about it. I do it to keep my family happy."

Sociologist DL Seth, a member of Centre for the Study of Developing Socieites says: "Life is becoming uncertain. People want some mental peace,there is a higher sense of insecurity and being rirualistic is not really attached to being superstitious. It is not necessary a ritualistic person may be superstitous and a supertitous person ritualistic".

That seems to be the blend then: spiritual but realistic. Kuchipudi dancer Raja Reddy, talking of his own children, says: My children want to know everything about our religious rites; they know Kuchipudi but choreograph western compositions."

Life today is fast, furious, fickle but Gen-X seems to have found the formula to fight back: Blend your religious faith with practical sense, draw strength and solace from it but don't foster blind faith. Practice rituals if it makes your family happy. You can do this much for them even if you do not believe in it.

Anura Jain, 18, sums it up: “There is god, but he just can’t give everything to 10 million people!”

First Published: Nov 02, 2005 17:23 IST