Importance Of Teaching Religious Tolerance To Children
|   Jan 12, 2015
Importance Of Teaching Religious Tolerance To Children

Unraveling the mystery behind the word 'God' to children

In my childhood-I was born in a Hindu family. Religion for us was seeing our devout grandparents perform the rituals everyday early morning. It was a joint family. Celebrating all festivals together amidst elaborated ceremonies was a norm. Making everyone conduct the rituals ‘the dadi way’ was a daunting task for this frail lady. But her strong demeanor made it happen . As young children, we loved these poojas as it gave us a chance to use dadi’s exquisite treasure of Indian musical instruments like manjeera, kartaal etc. Also, we got to eat some scrumptious Prasadam which was cooked only once a year on that particular festival.

In my school days-As I grew up religion meant going to pilgrims- four dhaams, visiting temples, again performing all rites and rituals whole heartedly. Seeing my mother fast for the sake of long life of her husband or children was common. Chanting mantras and religious hymns was our duty.

In my teenage years- I was confused by the idea of religion. New questions emerged in my rebel mind every day. Like-Why should I conduct a pooja if my mind is wandering somewhere else? Why are there specific places of worship if God is omnipresent? There were plethora of questions .No one had a satisfactory answer.

In my twenties- I was quite influenced by the philosophy of Saint Kabeer . All religions are equal. We should not waste time in performing pretentious religious ceremonies. God is attained through a clean heart. He questioned the philosophies of Hinduism and Islam alike. I was very impressed by his ‘dohas’ and recited most of them in my daily life. When I saw my mother raising her voice at our house maid, I sung- Aisi baani boliye mann ka aapa khoye, auran ko seetal kare aaphu seetal hoye . This embarrassed her and she always looked around for me before starting her ‘maid management’.

In my thirties - Watched Aamir’s PK recently. Enjoyed every bit of it and felt a strong association with its content. But again my inquisitive mind questioned what if a person is conducting idol worship with a conviction, sincere devotion and a clear heart. After all Meerabai was a Krishna bhakt and it’s said that she submerged into the statue of Lord Krishna and disappeared suddenly. What if Christians believe that white is an auspicious colour to be worn by brides whereas Hindus have marked it to be worn by widows. The whole universe is full of diverse people, different ethnicity, varied food, assorted cultures. I  find beauty in this diversity . Rather than questioning anyone’s belief and making fun of it we should learn to respect and celebrate these differences.  That’s how one can get a profound sense of purposefulness.

Do we have the right to be skeptical towards anyone’s idea of religion? NO because religion is a matter of faith. It is personal. There is no right or wrong. It is the intent, not the way, that matters . God does not look at the way we worship him- through an idol, or a holy text, or by chants, or by fasting or through thoughts. To each his own.

A wise man rightly said, “I do not judge people by the scriptures of their faith or the scars from their past, I embrace them by the content of their hearts”.

Let us instill this sense of tolerance in our children also.It is very important in today's time when there is so much disregard and hatred between people of different faiths. Let's mark beginning of a new Era. We can make this world a better place for our children.

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