Monday, February 20, 2012

Milk for the Gods, why not for a child

Today is Shivratri. Millions of devotees will pour millions of gallons of milk on Shiv Lingas across the country. I have always found the ritual of pouring milk over stone deities deplorable particularly in a land where millions go to bed hungry every night and thousands of children die of malnutrition every day. 5013 to be exact. This is no exaggeration, it is the sad reality substantiated by cold and harsh statistics. Nothing to be proud of. And the milk devotees will pour today will find its way to a gutter.

A Facebook messages urges us to offer only a tablespoon of milk on the Shiv ling. In India 1000's of children die of malnutrition, donate the milk to children and gain blessing from their families. I could not agree more. I am a Hindu and proud of being one, but I also feel that my religion gives me the flexibility of interpreting rituals with sagacity and keeping in mind the reality I live in. So if I am asked to offer milk on this blessed day then it could be a teaspoon or even a drop or why not just touch the packet to the deity and then give it to one of the innumerable children that crowd the lanes of temples. I am sure God will approve and send the sought blessing.

My mind goes back to the teachings of Ramaksrishna so lovingly taught to me by my father. Ramakrishna coined the term  daridra-narayana, God in the form of the poor, and asked us to serve Him: ‘Where should you go to seek God—are not all the poor, the miserable, the weak, Gods? Why not worship them first?’ And what better way then by giving the milk we earmarked for a stone deity to the first hungry child we come across.

It is time our rituals got revisited. The situation in our country is alarming: 42% of all the underweight children in the world live in India. 5000 children die every day due to preventable diseases and about 47% of adolescent girls in India are undernourished. Keeping this in mind waste of food of any kind is unacceptable be it the honey and milk of our religious rituals, the waste at weddings and other celebrations or the grains rotting in the open. True we can blame the government for not having sufficient silos or for not implementing pertinent legislation but the buck does not stop there. We as a nation are also responsible and must do our bit. Perhaps we could start today by donating the milk pledged to lord Shiva to hungry children who are the true image of God.


Indrajeet said...

So true.

Shalu Sharma said...

Indeed that's who we are. Milk for the gods and not for the children.

angela alvarez said...

yes this practice has probably been introduced by priests who cunningly wanted milk for themselves and then poured the excess over the idols..for it is a scientific fact that idols cannot consume milk...Last year statistics showed that 47% of our children are malnourished....and this pouring of milk is a criminal act in such a situation...Yes the Creator is alive in his manifestation of the poor and would benefit and get relief from hunger....on a statue the milk is totally wasted....worse still a baby holy cow is deprived of milk after birth to collect milk for sale which is in turn wasted over the idol....this practice must stop if Indians want to continue in the modern day with a rational mind and rational thinking and leave behind superstitions....Original Hinduism discouraged not only idols but also temples as the Supreme is too hard for us to contemplate or even imagine with our limited minds...I'm glad you brought this blog out and only if enlightened people get together and collect milk to feed the children instead of idols, India will have a strong work force instead of dying babies in the hospitals and shanties of the poor....or collect the milk after poured in sterile containers boil and distribute to the poor kids...this will definitely get one the practice cannot be stopped suddenly without creating confusion among the people.

Anonymous said...

What's the need of even one teaspoon. I'm a Hindu and I'm against such practices. What will god do with milk and butter and honey and rose water and coconut water xyz things... actually its a type of corruption... that if I'll offer xyz things to god he'll bless me ... all senseless practices