Some of us believe in modernity and want our country to be like that. We reject the religious rituals, their illogical dogmas and many social evils, like caste and patriarchy sanctioned by religion. We are also uncomfortable with the politicisation of religion which breeds communalism and disturbs harmony in society. So, I believe, every intellectual or liberal individual, must have thought, at least once, “I wish no religion existed”. I also think like that and agree, that religion seems to be very much unfavourable in the present context.
But, just like every coin has two sides, there are some benefits of religion as well. Don’t worry, I am not going to bore you by counting the moral values of religion. We all know that. I am just going to tell you about some utilities of religion in our daily life or even in our economy.
Just think, when was the last time you met your cousins, other relatives or friends? When did you witness a large gathering at your house last? It must be the last Raksha Bandhan or Eid festival. Most of us are going to meet our family at the upcoming Diwali celebrations after a long year. Isn’t it? We celebrate and eat together on Diwali, we renew our brotherhood on holi. We get a chance to talk to people who have been estranged from us for a long time. Every festival is full of sweetness, colours, and lights which enable us to forget about stress, and the mundaneness of daily life.
Besides these big festivals, we have many small religious occasions in our family, where closed ones gather and perform rituals. Our kinship relations get stronger. Whenever people in large numbers gather in a temple or mosque or gurudwara, don’t you feel any energy of bond among all? Don’t you feel that there is something common among all of us? Amid the growing individualism in a society, where we are fixed to a small screen and busy in the virtual world, it is necessary for society to revive the solidarity it once possessed.
Today, the condition is such that we don’t have time to talk to our parents, let alone relatives; and religious gatherings are means provided by our traditions to reverse this. These things build relations even among interfaith people. There is always a feeling of love and unity when a Hindu and a Muslim wish each other “Eid Mubarak” or “Diwali ki badhaai”.
We can even count 15th august and 26th January as a form of civic religion where we strongly feel united with other citizens and realise our belongingness to the country.
Right now, India is going through a severe economic slowdown with GDP growth declined to a 5% rate, one of the lowest in the last decade. Newspapers are flooded with economic analysis, experts are giving their opinions, laying off by companies is at peak and the government is trying hard to curb it via many financial packages and tax incentives.
However, as per my understanding, the root cause behind this condition is a liquidity trap where consumers are unwilling to spend much in the market. Amid this, I think the most hopeful ray across the whole country to revive the economy is religious festivals. People tend to spend more on festivals. Industrialists, economists and even our finance minister are keeping an eye on upcoming festivals of Navratri and Diwali. Its effect is already showing up with increased sales of vehicles in recent days. So, such occasions can attract people who were sitting idle till recently, to markets. Every year, Indian markets witness unprecedented sales in festival seasons.
So, there are always grave dysfunctions of religions as I mentioned above, but one can’t deny its benefits as well. So, instead of totally rejecting it or trying to eliminate it, we should reform it. What we have to do is leveraging it for building a peaceful society ingrained with love, brotherhood, and a prosperous economy.