Surely we humans are different from our pets in many a ways. And if you have ever had one in your life, you would exactly understand what unconditional love is. These simple beings, accept us the way we are, with all our shortcomings. On the other hand, we humans often become judgmental of others, and seldom accept another’s differences in habits and traits.
Growing up with Amma
Growing up in a highly orthodox Tambrahm home, I have been a witness to my Amma’s difficulty in handling my overly religious grandmother. Grandma would be very particular about her rituals and practices, apart from the way the home had to be run. Amma would follow her guidelines, and despite not agreeing with grandmother on many things, I have never found her talk ill about her. My father, a relatively softer person, would seldom support his young bride in front of his mother.
As I grew old enough to understand things, I have often asked Amma, why didn’t she ever make my father discuss issues with his mother? Why didn’t she ever force him to speak boldly to his mother? Call it social conditioning or unconditional love, Amma would tell me that father was a soft-natured person; hence he would never talk back to his mother. Amma had accepted his nature completely, with all his shortcomings, and did not want to force him to react to a situation in way she deemed right.
The profoundness in her words
As a young girl, I would never understand what mom really meant and would often equate it to meekness. But over the years, I have begun to realize how profound her words are. Today, I consciously try to look at things from a perspective that’s different from mine, to accept another for whom and what they are.
Acceptance is not agreeing
You don’t really need to agree to what another has to say or think or does. Acceptance is when you stop judging and expecting a person, to react or behave, in a way which you deem as right! We often tend to write our own versions of a person to suit our ego’s best interest. And this is what as humans we need to change.
Acceptance comes with its share of benefits
As I began putting in the effort towards accepting those I come across in my life, I sensed these changes:
I reduced dissension and resentments.
It brought me closer to the person, and helped me build a stronger and more fulfilling relationship.
I have begun to accept my own self better; my flaws and positive aspects too.
I sense that element of calmness within myself
Getting Chosen as a Life Partner- The Tambrahm Way
“This post made it to the top three in YeahWrite.me non-fiction weekly challenge.”
“Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws.”
That’s the definition from Wikipedia!!! Now if that sounded pretty complex, in reality, the institution of marriage is far more complex in India. Chunk of marriages in India are arranged. It begins from the “yes my child has reached the marriageable age”, to the actual event and beyond…. (Well I really don’t know when weddings end in India. The responsibility gets dragged on probably till the couple has their child).
The elders in the household get the ball rolling by spreading the word in the immediate social circle. Once a prospective groom (read family) is shortlisted, then the whole rigmarole of marriage begins.
I was recently party to one such event in my over enthusiastic “Tambrahm” household. Tambrahm is the nick name given to the Brahmin sect living in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. They have a reputation of not only being intelligent and well qualified, but also traditional and orthodox, conforming strictly to Vedic practices. My aunt made the announcement that her dear son had reached marriageable age. He had a very typical “IIT-IIM” Tambrahm degree, and the only thing she wanted was a girl who was smart, homely, and God-fearing.
Well that’s not too much to ask for… Just that the meaning of smart, homely and God-fearing in the Tambrahm dictionary is “a girl with at least an engineering degree, can drive a car, speak good English and debate on current political issues. She should be able to cook up a 3 course meal, make snacks and sweets in ample quantities during festivities. She should adhere to strict religious practices as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures, wear a sari and when required the elaborate 9 yards sari too. She could work…but should be home by 6 pm before the evening lamp is lit and be prepared to retire from work… when the first baby comes. She should also be able to sing during functions such as Navratri and other social gatherings, and make great filter coffee. Oh I also forgot to mention… Follow echal, pathu, madi, accharam … (well these are just different terms a common TamBrahm household uses for rules regarding hygiene cleanliness and general living).
So anyways the hunt was on and finally the chosen family was to be met on a Sunday, after the horoscopes of the boy and the girl were matched by the family astrologer. Being a ritualistic person my aunt decided it not appropriate to allow her son to meet the girl before she had met her. So an entire platoon of our family landed up at the girl’s residence. After the customary greeting, the girl whom I shall address as “A”, walked in with a tray of piping hot filter coffee. All eyes were transfixed on her. Did I imagine my aunt ticking off a checklist in her mind? I did see a twinkle in her eye.
“Can you sing?” my aunt asked her. Surprisingly most TamBrahms are blessed with a beautiful voice. I must admit “A” sang soulfully. The melody wafted through the air and I noticed my aunt’s smile deepen. When it was time to leave, I noticed “A’s” parents had a look of anxiety. Was it a yes or a no? My aunt held their hands and said, “I will get my son the next week. Let the youngsters talk while we proceed to the next step- the nithchaithartham or the formal proposal to marry.” The parents beamed.
A Tambrahm wedding had just been fixed.
On our way back home, I asked my aunt what made her say yes to the girl. Here were her reasons.
Reason 1: Their horoscopes matched extremely well. They will surely have a happy married life.
I find it quite surprising that many parents even today give more importance to horoscopes instead of actually focusing on compatibility. I wonder if horoscopes really reflect compatibility in marriages.
Reason 2: She did not use any make up. Did you see that? She is surely a simple girl.
Well, use of make up or not, it is purely a personal choice related to dressing. Simplicity lies in one’s heart. I have always known the dislike Tambrahms have towards any sort of makeup. But little did I know that it is a vital criterion in getting a groom!!!
Reason 3: She can sing well despite being a qualified engineer.
I’d definitely give my aunt a point here. I truly appreciate a person developing their talent, skill, passion or hobby, apart from having their professional life. It is commendable in today’s hectic world. But wondering if this would make someone a good life partner.
I finally asked my aunt the question that had been gnawing my mind. “Would your son like to have her as his wife?” She retorted “Well he must… I know what’s good for him I would not take no for an answer.”
I pondered to myself. I am not against the system of an arranged marriage. But wish parents would include their children in their decision making process and not force their choices on them.
What’s the meaning of Atheism? The oxford dictionary defines it as “a belief that God does not exist”. However I often notice the term loosely being used, especially if beliefs are in contrast to traditional ones.
I am from a “Tam Brahm” upbringing. Every traditional, ritualistic Tam Brahm household must begin its morning with the Suprabhatam (a devotional invocation dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara). Daily “Shlokas” (couplets dedicated to the Supreme Being) are to be chanted, before starting the day’s work and at dusk when the lamp was lit. Not doing so meant wrath from the elders of the family. Regular temple visits are part of our lives. And on special occasions such as birthdays and festivals, dressed in finery, visiting the temple to seek God’s blessings is an absolute must. Dos and do-not were stressed upon on the basis of religious texts and scriptures. Things such as do not cut your nails/hair on Fridays, were strictly adhered to. I wasn’t really against these practices, but just that it never made much sense to me.
Somewhere in the quest to connect with God, I found people often mixing up spirituality and rituals. In reality they are distinctly apart. I did question the practices and the way we did things, for which the general answer I received from elders was, “This is the way you connect to God, as written in our holy scriptures. By doing so you would have a happy and comfortable life. As I grew up, these customs and way of spirituality became deeply embedded in my life even though my understanding still remained quite low.
Over the years, as I matured into a wife and mother, I gained a better understanding of the whole picture of spirituality. In my home, i have a little prayer corner. I light a little flame every morning and evening, and the smell of incense sticks wafts through my home. I do this not because it has to be done, it is not a rule. I do it because it makes me happy. I do it because this prayer corner is my place to feel at peace, to help me with my thoughts, to drift into intellectual ideas and sometimes to meditate. The lamp for me is to kindle the positive energy within me.
I still chant small little Shlokas which I teach my kids. Not because God would be happy with me, but because I love the rhythm that they carry. A rhythm that soothes my nerves and keeps me relaxed at most times of the day. I still visit a temple, not as a duty, not for favors and not because the “deity in the temple” is all powerful. I choose a temple that’s generally less crowded, where I can sit down on the stone floors to soak in the serene and calm atmosphere.
This is spirituality for me. There is some unknown energy in the universe. It is a positive energy, one which we call “God” or Supreme Being. We attach a physical form to it, to make our minds relate more easily to it. I believe we all carry a part of this positive energy within us. And rekindling this energy could be done in a way one is comfortable with.