BARBIE DOLLS AND GANAPATHI PUJAS
A brief analysis of the reason behind idol worship in religions
|It is without doubt that we are happiest in our childhood, ignorant of all the fears and worries that haunt the adult world. Infinite joy springs from within and every experience is an occasion for uninhibited celebration. It is also the time in our lives when we are showered with undivided attention. If childhood is such a beautiful period in our lives, isn't it sensible that we carry on doing at least some of the things that we did in our childhood, even after we are considered too old for them? In fact we all do such things except we call them by different names.
It is with little premise, I wish to explain the centuries old practices in religion, especially, Hinduism. Idol worship- an integral, if not an indispensable part of modern Hinduism- is now almost universally accepted and followed with diligence by Hindus. It is indeed baffling that any sensible person should even entertain such a thought that a superior and supernatural power existing in an artificially imagined and built shapes and forms. Yet, the rituals in this religion are replete with innumerable activities involving the idol- bathing it with milk, sandal water, coconut water, etc.; decorating it with holy ash, flowers and garlands; clothing it with silk, adorning it with glittering gold and sparkling diamonds and finally parading it through the streets with grandeur.
The survival of such rituals for so long is indeed remarkable. Although antiquity is often looked upon as a reason, it is not the only one and I believe it is not even the most important one. A more significant reason is psychological, that which appeals to the child within each of us and therefore enables us to derive and inner satisfaction.
To put things in a nut shell, I can say that there is not much difference between a little girl playing with a Barbie doll and a grown-up with a Ganapathi idol. While the former is involved in it with no purpose at all, the latter is involved with an illusion of purpose. This illusion of purpose is only to convince oneself that one is engaged in something of prominence and not something trivial or childish.
So, to conclude, if we can ignore the psychological satisfaction that we seem to attain thanks to our childhood fantasies, we can infer that idol- worship is devoid of any meaning or purpose.
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