Absurdity in Modernity
By Hari Prasad Paudel
During my childhood, I was very strict in following the social norms and values. I was brought up in the same rural community where most of Nepalese children have to be brought up. In my society, the supernatural traditions were prevalent and most of the people used to follow it without thinking a while. There are still many traditions which, people think, relevant even today. I myself found very hard to continue my tasks because of my practice and thought.
When I reached twenty, my parent, insisted that I should put on “Sacred Thread”, regarded as the most important thing to prove me as a follower of Hindu and the son of Brahmin family. I could not refuse their proposal then because I had refused several times earlier and my parent were grown old enough. I became so confused that I could not decide anything. On the one hand I supported the various movements to make our country a secular state and on the other, I was accepting the strict religious doctrine. I had worked also for various organizations for equality among all castes, but I was putting on the thread which would challenge all the theories of equality and lead to accept all the traditions blindly.
I thought that it would do no harm towards equality. Finally, the day approached and I became ready to accept the tradition for my parents’ sake. On the day of the program all my relatives arrived; they had very keen interest in the process and they ordered me to follow the norms. I accepted all the process as instructed by Pandit [priest]. He uttered several chants essential according to our tradition and culture. After all the process ended, I found myself in a very confusing mood. On one hand I was in the side of the people fighting for equality or the dismissal of the cultural traditions and on the other, I was following the tradition which demanded the hierarchy.
The days were passing and all things were going well. After the event of putting the “thread” I became quite changed, I stopped eating meat from that day. I was still taking part in the activities for equality and secular state and speaking in community that religion was not a good thing it’s a method of domination. It was doctrine created by the higher class people to solidify their domination. I was feeling quite uneasy to be adjusted with my relatives due to my practice of being a good follower or hard liner religiously. During my visit to my relatives I had to inform them for the food that I would eat. I had given up the habit of eating out with friends but I had concealed the real cause. If they knew that it was because of my religious doctrine, they would suspect my loyalty. I used to think that I was practicing these beliefs for my parents’ sake and I was really against such out-dated and nonsense traditions.
But one day I felt myself quite different. I was invited to my aunt’s house for supper. She already knew that I would not eat meat and I reminded her again. During supper I found that she had also made meat for other members. I was very conscious on maintaining the distance between me and those ‘carnivorous’ men. But alas I found a small piece of meat in my vegetable and felt so bad that I left the food and went out. My aunt was feeling very sorry for her mistake but I returned home with my heavy heart. Unexpectedly, my eyes were filled with tears and I found myself betrayed from my own relative. After reaching home, I examined myself and my feelings in silence and found myself a changed person. I was practicing all those beliefs and traditions for my parent’s sake or for the community, but I was strictly with the side of rebellion for equality in society.
I discovered myself as a man who accepted conventional beliefs blindly with a heavy heart.
Everyone faces such situation in the course of life due to the gap between thought and action. No matters how much we are educated and committed to our goal, we cannot easily ignore the cultural and social doctrines that remain in our ‘latent’ mind.