Today is Divali, the Hindu festival of lights.
I’ve said before that I’m an atheist. My mother is a Catholic. But we grew up in a Hindu home, with all the traditions and such.
Even after my grandparents passed away, we tend to still follow the Hindu traditions. Including lighting deyas.
The fasting (abstaining from meat), not so much, but we’ll still not eat meat for a couple of days.
Now, you may ask that since I’m an atheist, why bother with any of those things? Well because my mother still believes. So I do it.
I think it’s still important to be respectful of others’ reasonable beliefs. As long as it doesn’t infringe on my rights.
But I realise how much our society allows religion and religious institutions to do just that.
There’s an evangelical church close by my home, and every Sunday morning they would blast their service through loudspeakers. They don’t care what you believe or don’t believe, you will listen to their sermon.
No police would stop them.
The Hindu pooja services in temples or the Muslim call to prayer is no different.
But why do we allow them to get away with that?
Because we are all superstitious people. Even I can’t sometimes shake my upbringing.
Which is why religious belief is so often used in arguments to deny rights. And we continue to give credence to it. Religion continues to be used as a form of control of large groups of people.
That is slowly changing with studies finding that the world population is becoming less religious — but still in a high majority. Religion may never disappear though, thanks to our brain’s need to look for patterns and causation in all events — God’s will and such.
While we wait for more people to become truly "enlightened", we should be careful about how much respect we give to religious beliefs.