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Haridwar, place full of beliefs September 1, 2007

Posted by Gaurav Dhiman in Personal Life.
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After a long gap, I am back to my work. After the death of my mother I took some time off from my work to make things settled at my home. During my past few days, I had very different experiences. I went to Haridwar, one of the religious dhams in India, for completing the pending rituals of my mother’s death. It was a great experience for me. I can not completely explain the scene of Haridwar in words. Its a place to visit and experience of your own. Its a place where people come to adhere to their religious beliefs, as you must be knowing, in India religion is a big thing. At Haridwar its come to see the scenes where people are getting paats (prayers) done, getting their hairs removed (know as mundan) and taking dip in holy water of Ganga river. What I observed that people do all this, not just because they believe in it, but because of their superstition. They do it, because their ancestor were doing it and they have learnt or seen the same thing since their birth, hence they too have to do it. By saying all this I do not mean that I don’t do all this. I too do it because I am also a part of Indian society and have learnt the same things since birth. Frankly speaking I do all religious stuff so that my elders do not get offended. My family is open minded and never imposes things or their beliefs on me, but still I am a part of society and have to follow some things if not all.

My Haridwar visit opened my eye to the level of superstition that exists in India. There is a strong belief that the holy river Ganga can wash all the sins, if a person takes a dip into it. I am not able to understand how taking a dip in river can wash your sins. Most of the people come to Haridwar to take a dip in this holy river. On some special religious events/occasions, number of people taking dip into Ganga rises to somewhat in millions. Other than this source of pollution, another source is that people do drop the aasthis (remaining bones of dead body) in this river. Its again a belief that by doing so the soul of dead person will rest in peace. Frankly speaking I and my brother too did the same thing for my mother, as its a belief in Hindu religion. By all this, the river Ganga has now been polluted to extreme levels. Its one of the longest river of India which passes from many important cities of the country. During its journey, it gets polluted at every step, still people have a belief that taking dip in this river can wash their sins and hence do the same without applying their brain or logic on this belief.

During my this trip to Haridwar, I saw the state of Ganga river and it was horrible. I even saw a dead body of cow floating in it. With such a state of river, how can people take a dip into it. Other than taking dip in Ganga, people do take this water to their home considering it to be holy water. I don’t know how they consider it to be a holy water. It might be a holy water during its journey through hills as in those area there is very less population and hence less pollution, but as soon as it touches planes at Haridwar, people do change the state of this water by putting ‘n’ number of things into it just because of their superstition. Most surprising part to me was that people see the water is contaminated, they can see things floating into it, but still take it as a holy water, just because its a water from river Ganga, which is given a status of Mother Ganga (long story behind it) in India.

My father too wanted to take a dip into river Ganga, but seeing the state of water he changed his mind. He asked one of the pundits if there is some other place where there could be a bit clear water of river Ganga, as the water here is polluted. By hearing the statement of my father pundit got annoyed and asked him to leave the place. He said that even if all these things are flowing in river, still the water of Ganga can not be polluted, its a mother of all rivers and Ganga water is the holiest water. This made me think about the level of thinking that pundit had. It was not a surprise to me as I was expecting such a response from him. Its a shameful state that we rather than believing our eyes are believing our same old traditions and beliefs without giving any logical reason for them. I realized most of the people at that place never used their logic to know why they were doing what they were doing.

I got bit off, seeing the state and the level of thinking majority of India have.

Another learning and a surprise for me was the maintenance of family tree by pundits of different communities. India being a multi-cultural place have many religion. Each religion have number of different castes, gotras in them, which define different communities of people. My father took us to the pundit of our community to register the death of my mother. On the death of a family member, family registers the death with their community pundit. In Haridwar there are pundits of almost all communities. When we reached the pundit of our community, he opened his record book which maintained the family tree. He had the records of every person in last 10 to 15 generations. It was amazing to know who were our ancestors and to know their names, places where they lived and other details. We created a family tree from that information to share it with other members at home. That record book contained information of our ancestors 10 to 15 generations back. Pundit ji told us that how that all is created. He told that whenever there is any death occurs in family, few of the family members registers the death with them at Haridwar, at that time they note the names, date of birth and other details of people who visit them also note their relationship with the deceased. In this manner information about family starts getting collected from generation to generation. It was definitely a good way of keeping track and knowing your ancestors. Simply saying, I got impressed with huge and rare data that they had.

Although it was a one day short trip to Haridwar, but it was full of experiences and learnings. I will keep on writing as time passes. Do visit this blog for updates, as I will keep on writing new blog articles.