The God Particle

Posted: August 28, 2013

Back to the academic world for M.A English Literature after a brief career in teaching pre-primary classes, Deepthi is interested in reading and exploring the plurality of voices which reflect the present social scenario. She particularly loves long walks and a good game of badminton.

In the teens, being a non-believer with no particular affinity towards any religion was much easier. The non-believer part was kept well under wraps, though being irreligious wasn’t. There was a cover under the refrain, uttered not so hopelessly by near and dear, “she’s like that”. Not that the criticism mattered, but it helped avoid needless confrontations when the hormones were on the high!

Marriage puts one along the focal length of observation, and with the addition of children to the family, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be right under the magnifying glass. Free dispositions on the holy lessons that should have been a staple in a family and passed on to posterity without a shadow of doubt were, hmmm…Aplenty.

I grew up in a family rooted in worshiping god. And the family I was introduced to through marriage is again temple-going and puja-performing. Religion, god, culture is a kind of sundae with intermingling, and blurring layers. Being a female, has a particular catch in the patriarchal eyes. The wife is expected to ensure the well-being of the family through religious observations and rituals. Seeing that I am less inclined to take them up on my own, I used to get some questions preceding religious days like janmashtami, as to what my plans were. I deal them with the truth, “nothing particular, it’s a usual day” .My intention is not to create any disharmony, but live as I believe. It’s not in my interest to get engaged in unpleasant exchanges. And what can be better than saying it openly in a non questioning, matter of fact way. Lo, exactly what I did. Then I hear this,

“For the children’s sake…they will be confused”.

A ready reply to that, “Oh, they will learn if they want to”. That and a smile sufficed. No more suggestions followed.

My children are not the custodians of my beliefs. Well, there will be confusions along the way, living in a community adhering to much of the religious observances and holidays revolving around them. And since my partner has the same take on things, it shouldn’t be that tough on me. That doesn’t mean it’s easy for the children. Questions will emerge, explanations sought. I am there with them, in their journey.

I want them to believe in things they do, only because they want to. Not because god wants them to.  My daughter who is nine is completely at ease in believing the stories they hear about God as mythological stories. And we have open discussions. She is at ease with me being a non-believer. My 6 year old son is not. He likes the way my mother-in-law lights the lamp and offer obeisance, when she comes over. He likes to do that. And on the days he remembers, he does. Faith is their choice. They have the absolute freedom to pick what they feel like.

Granted, there are many things beyond the scope of the human mind, but everything that is outside of our comprehension, do they have to be attributed to god? “Then what”…my grandma asks, (It is all ‘bhaghvan’s leela’ for her)..I tell her, “I don’t know”. I am perfectly fine not knowing. The questions on the mysteries of this cosmic world, well…let them be mysteries. Those working at unravelling those perhaps can give better answers on that. I choose not to offer god as an explanation to things I don’t have an answer to. It can be sought and found or sought and not found. In life we need to come to terms with things not understood.

My ancestor’s god needn’t be worshipped just because it’s from the past and hence something to be conserved. My choice is not to be a curator or a propagator of things  I don’t believe in. Nor our existence will lose meaning without the god factor. There’s meaning in  the lessons learnt  as we move forward. There is meaning in continuing  to evolve and becoming comfortable in one’s own skin. There is meaning in a lazy afternoon spent home. Along the way, mistakes are made, achievements celebrated, relationships broken and friendships made. Yes.No.Cry.Laugh.Love.Live.


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  1. Hey, could so identify with this. I am often asked how come am at work on varamahalakshmi or Janmashtami. When I reply that I do not do pujas, i often receive a smirk in reply or another questiopn, what does my family think about it. I am an agnostic leaning towards atheism and for me this is a path of discovery about the self in my own way. Wish the ‘live and let live’philosophy worked the way it is preached!

    • Good to know that you are an atheist and not believing sentiments and seems you are fine to keep feet on books etc.. Keep up the confidence level in the life which is very important than anything else

  2. Nice article. I am in the exact same boat, except that my child is under a year. I am perfectly comfortable when my mother in law takes him in her arms to pray etc. and I will be happy if he wants to believe or if he doesn’t.but I definitely can’t be the one to teach him as I have never believed.

  3. Nice article.I am also an atheist.I also wonder sometimes how will I fit in my marital family because most of the Indian families are religious.But reading your article I have got the courage to stand up for what I believe in.

    • Deepthi Unnikrishnan -

      Yes,please do assert yourself and thanks for appreciating my stand.

    • Good to know that you are an atheist and not believing sentiments and seems you are fine to keep feet on books etc.. Keep up the confidence level in the life which is very important than anything else

  4. I appreciate your writing very much. You article made me feel that there are others like me too. Well am not particularly an atheist but I am not ritualistic and do not have faith in fasting and pujas. I am a bengali married to an orthodox brahmin family. My MIL does not agree with me neither she is happy that I do not observe any fast or things like that and on auspicious days I have both veg and non veg meals. She tried to rebuke me thereafter tried to blackmail me on the point that all these are required for my daughter, 5+ old, and my husband’s well being. All these reduces ill-heath and brings prosperity, piousness etc.etc. Well I believe – if anyone is sick in the household then I should consult the doctor’s immediately rather than sitting tight and waiting for god to heal the world. God has given me brain, eyes, hands and legs to fend for myself. For me, He is already over burdened with so many followers and their wants. So I must take care of everyone with the amenities that I have which are tangible and within my reach. Ofcourse, I do my bit of prayers everyday and that is very personal between god and myself. I do not need my MIL or my mother or anybody else in that matter to tell me or to guide me in the process.

    My MIL is excessively fussy with touchibility, her own sets of righteousness, castes this and that. It is quite weird that being an educated person that she is, she still believes in all these. I feel like asking her that she being so religious then why my husband suffers from high blood sugar? Actually she tries to control everything her ways. I am a working person. But she stays with us, in all these years of marriage I never had a fight with her. Imagine my patience and tolerance!!! I try to take her as a woman not just as only my MIL. So she has her own specific sets of insecurity, foolishness and childlike things. At the end of the day she is a WOMAN, married to a joint-family, then after my marraige my FIL, who had renal failure undergoing dialysis, also passed away. So she needs something for herself also. I also understands that when me and my husband go out or watch TV late night or chatting together, etc.etc. she does not like that particularly as she feels insecure that her reign in the household might loosen. Even after so many years my husband cannot buy a single thing for me and present it to me directly without showing it to her first and mostly it comes via her, and not from my husband directly.

    My husband has a comfortable stand in this. He tells me if you do not like a particular thing either you tell it to her directly or just ignore it. My daughter after coming from school stays in her custody. Well, her set of routine is quite bizarre. My daughter returns home from school by 1:30 pm but she always gets to have her lunch late – almost 2:30 to 3 pm because my MIL was performing her Puja and she will not touch any food like rice or non veg. Well rice my MIL has but only once due to religious reasons (as she is a widow, she does not take rice twice unless that is some kind of a prasadam).Then in evening time she continues with her evening puja for hours then my small daughter is left to watch TV or do something else but no food or snacks (reason being twilight is not the right time to eat or drink food!!!). By the time I reach home I saw her almost everday that that she is still having her evening snacks or nothing at all. I return home and do all cooking etc., teach my daughter – her study and piano, helps her in her drawing etc. MIL does the cooking rarely in the evening. In the morning the cook comes. When the cook is absent she takes over in the morning (with my help ofcourse).

    One point I forgot to mention, in my in laws place FRIENDS and FRIENDSHIP are always discouraged. They are an absolute NO, NO words. Let alone boys. Incidentally my school and colleges everything were co-ed and I have friends in equal ratio in both genders.

    Well what I have realised in all these years – the definition of an ideal woman in our system are as follows – working women or daughter in laws whether working or not has to have lots of patience. They need to have ten hands like Maa Durga, they must not have a life of their own. Work without being appreciated. People will always take you for granted. Never complain. Do not fight for your right. Forget about your hobbies, passion or what you were good at!!! No fun and frolic with friends. You are working!!! How much of earning goes into the family is immaterial but it’s a crime that you are working and must be enjoying yourself outside!!! At the end of the day you are the DIL, and a woman (always less than the Son – MAN!!! HUMAN!!!).


    • Deepthi Unnikrishnan -

      Thanks for appreciating my write-up. Well, wriggling through when a different path is adopted other than what is perceived as the ‘norm’, it gets tricky in the family front.

    • Religious sentiments and rituals should not be imposed on anyone… Women should be given more freedom; women should be able to choose if they want to do fasting or not during auspicious days; they should take decisions on their own either to follow sentiments or not like if it is fine to touch books with the feet, it should be their wish; nobody should scare quoting it as a sin etc…

  5. Good Article by Deepthi Unnikrishnan and good responses by all

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