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The Hindu that I am

The Hindu that I am

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Hindu Woman praying

This personal reflection explores the author’s relationship with Hinduism, highlighting her unique practices, beliefs, and perspective on what it means to be a practicing Hindu. Through introspection, the author Dr. Puja Banerjee Barua shares her journey of spirituality, emphasizing a non-conventional approach to religious observance while embracing the essence of Hinduism as a way of life.

I am a Hindu, by religion. Though l often wonder if l am what they call a ‘practising’ Hindu. I start my day with a quick prayer and a sun salutation, nothing elaborate or ceremonious. l do not temple-hop every other day, in fact, at all. l do have a small shrine dedicated to a motley collection of deities, most of whom, interestingly, have found their way into my home as gifts from friends and family. I do believe in a creator and in keeping with that l repose my faith in one particular spiritual figure who was as mortal as me and yet possessed supernatural powers; it is his name that is on my lips in times of joy and sorrow, often unbeknownst to me, not that l make a great show of my devotion on any occasion.

I do not know the ancient Hindu holy scriptures or texts in any depth, something l am not very proud of. In fact l rue not having had the opportunity to educate myself in the Bhagavad Geeta and the Vedas and Puranas, if only to gain a deeper insight into my country’s history and its culture. I have a pedestrian knowledge of the epics though.
For all my ‘on-the- surface’ brand of Hinduism, l confess to observing a few religious festivals, simply for the exuberance and togetherness they foster, though ‘pujas’ per se are limited to the extent where l can connect with the supreme power all by myself, preferably without the mediation of a ‘purohit or pandit’, ie, a priest. Till date I remain unconvinced of a priest’s ability to commune with the divine on my behalf! l often give in to societal and familial obligations and hold small religious rituals at home on rare occasions for certain reasons, not the least of which is the happiness and solace of the elders in the family.

For me, being Hindu is a way of life, not something that l wear on my sleeve or a fact that l drop in every other sentence of my daily conversations. I believe religion is an intensely personal thing. My being a Hindu does not influence my choice of food (I am a staunch believer of freedom of choice) or my attire….l let my individuality, my personal preferences, my pragmatism, upbringing, culture, and my basic instincts of decency and sobriety along with correctness of things to guide me there.

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I know l risk the displeasure of the some people but l simply have to blurt out that being the kind of Hindu that l am, l find my religion extremely tolerant, unimposing, undemanding, un-exacting, flexible and one which does not breathe down my neck, gives me a lot of elbow room and allows me complete freedom in extremely important spheres of my life. It lets me be and teaches me to let others be too. Just how profound and beautiful is that?! Yes l take pride in being a Hindu and thus, in belonging to a religion which allows me to have a balanced and respectful outlook towards all other religions. A religion that sincerely believes in humanism and assimilation. Does this qualify as ‘practising’? I leave the house open for discussion on this point.

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