Excerpts from the book “Hinduism beyond rituals, customs, and traditions”
One major drawback instituted in ambiguous rituals is the fear factor. And in absurdity, some rituals promise to work like cure-all miracles. Illogical rituals block the real spirit of a religion. Such customs generate fanaticism. Rituals help in cult formation. The entry of fake gurus in the Hindu faith is thru the contamination created by inane rituals.
Irrational rituals pollute the religion and dilute the enlightenment contained in the Hindu philosophies and thoughts.
Hinduism is not a religion of fear. Nor it is meant for fanaticism and exploitation by self-appointed gurus or saints with claims of magical powers.
Bad rituals and bad traditions do make a deadly combination. Dubbed as “supreme sacrifice”, the institution of Sati, live burning of widow immediately after the death of husband, which of course is now abandoned, became a part of Hindu heritage. The word ‘sati’ means true and loyal to Sanskrit.
And equally condemning is the practice of sacrificial animal killings by asserting that gods will be pleased. For example in Nepal, a predominantly Hindu nation, mass and cruel beheading of buffaloes is a popular custom under the excuse of religious tradition.
Rationalization of irrational rituals as part of old traditions and customs is an unrealistic assertiveness of defense.
Rituals in the name of sanctified Hindu dictums are the cause of excessive abuse of people who technically are still Hindus but belong to no class. They are the ‘Outcastes’ or the ‘Untouchables’.
The religiosity of caste is an endemic feature of Hinduism. And this is where the brutality of some rituals and customs is being endured by a section of the humanity simply because of their assigned status in the society. They are at the bottom of the Hindu social structure. Customs and rituals don’t allow them to come up from that lowest stratum.
Mahatma Gandhi called them “Harijans”, children of God. But because of rooted tradition in the name of religion, rituals of discrimination and untouchability against the ‘untouchable’ citizens are still quite widely practiced.
Nevertheless this section of the society, which is mostly poor, along with rest of the impoverished population among Hindus, still follows sacred Hindu rituals with allegiance and devotion. In fact, these rituals tender the only knowledge they have to practice their faith.