Puja in the office: Hindu privilege in action
#13
(26-Oct-2010, 09:30 AM)shrihara Wrote: In my office, very often, I get request to have Thirpathi prasadam, Mookambika prasadam etc from colleagues who had returned from "Holy piligrimage". I do take them since I like the Thirupathi ladoos. It is not poison and there is nothing wrong in accepting it. They are not asking you to do pooja or pray God. Its better to maintain good relationship with everyone in workplace rather than showing ego of our disbelief.

Are you sure you're not just rationalising your decision to take the easy way out? I've noticed this in many people who have Hindu names (as judging by your username, you do) - they go along with it just to fit in, and to receive the privilege that comes with it.

Also, I'm sure you don't seriously think it's ego that prevents me from participating! I mean come on.

(26-Oct-2010, 12:02 PM)shrihara Wrote: I feel that there is nothing wrong to participate in activities like "secret santa" or "ethnic day" or accepting prasadam. When theists are all happy and celebrating in festive mood, if we refuse to be a part of it, they start to think that atheists are pessimists having sad life. That's the worst part in these events and its better to avoid it.

Freethinkers need to be brave. As I've said before on one of the threads here, no one said this path would be easy. It comes at a cost. Let's consider the cost in this particular case: most likely, a small number of small-minded colleagues will hold a grudge against me. I don't care - I don't mind being unpopular with them. The majority of my colleagues might be surprised/offended, but will forget about it the next day. I'm professionally competent, and that will quickly override any lingering resentment.

Worst-case scenario - all my colleagues will resent me and I'll be discriminated against professionally. In that case, I'll take legal recourse and/or look for a new job. That's a cost I personally am willing to pay.

(Pre-empting an obvious objection: yes of course it depends on where you are professionally. If you're poor and you're desperate for the income your job gives you and it's tough to find a new job - then of course these things take precedence over your principles. You might have to grin and bear it.)
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#14
I been thinking about this issue.

(26-Oct-2010, 06:34 PM)unsorted Wrote: Freethinkers need to be brave. As I've said before on one of the threads here, no one said this path would be easy. It comes at a cost. Let's consider the cost in this particular case: most likely, a small number of small-minded colleagues will hold a grudge against me. I don't care - I don't mind being unpopular with them. The majority of my colleagues might be surprised/offended, but will forget about it the next day. I'm professionally competent, and that will quickly override any lingering resentment.

I am not sure its matter of brave,

I believe there is a difference between culture and religion.


Here in my town i celebrated dussera with my friends and exchanged some leaves and hugged everyone!! I have invited lot of american atheists to temple, they all loved it..
But, me and atheist friends didn't stand in line for darshan.. Its not that i believe in that story, I just like it... Next weekend we are planning fire works. I haven't figured out what i am wearing for halloween

If someone offers me prasad, If i like that particular sweet, I'll take it, if not, i won't take it. I would never do fasting, And i laugh at people who do fasting..

I consider myself as cultural hindu, Like richard dawkins considers himself as cultural Christian and julia sweeney considers herself cultural catholic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3yArZbSDP4

If ritual is fun, I just do it for fun. If i don't like it, I don't it. If someone forces me, I'll just my middle finger.

It does looks like i am supporting rituals but, that not my intention.
And i would never skip, my career life, or personal objective for a ritual sake.

I have noticed a some christians are protesting yoga, they feel that its different form of prayer to god, or kinda ritual thing.. I think a person can do yoga just as excise.

I think there's a thin line difference between ritual, culture, and just doing something for fun..

If i see good "Mother mary" painting, I'll defiantly enjoy art and details in it, like I do for monalisa painting..

I feel, Atheism is not just a idea or philosophy, its a way of living life.
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#15
ayyawar,

Please read my argument about choice and pressures in the workplace. Your argument is quite common, and is in fact a view that I held not so long ago.

Religion is not just divided by a thin line from culture, it is part and parcel of culture. It is only freethought that separates religion from culture, because of an ideological inclination towards propagating truthful narratives in culture. My objective as a freethought activist is to curtail the influence of religion on culture. So your entire argument is exactly what I am fighting against.

From my article:

Quote:"From a scientific point of view, we can define religion as a sub-group within a culture, possessing certain specific traits. The most fundamental of these traits is the strong group identity that religion strives to instill in its followers. In this sense, religion can be observed as a set of memes. The evolution of a religion can be studied through the memetic evolution of individual religious ideas, including the central meme that holds the religion together- the group label. The most successful religions are those that have managed to extend the label of the religion over the entire cultural spectrum of a population. The religions that manage to do this have achieved a stranglehold over the cultural evolution of that group of people. This is the most powerful strategy that religious memes have at their disposal. The way a culture gets out from under the burden of repressive religious labels is by denying religious memes their hunger for co-opting the knowledge attained by rational discourse."

The point is this. If one wants to practice any religious symbolism they are free to, as long as they do not cross the line on personal space. In an office setting many relationships rules apply that may not apply elsewhere. For example, in some job situations it is not allowed for a superior to make advances on a subordinate, because the latter is under the power of the former and is under pressure to agree even if he/she doesn't want to.

Of course we can enjoy the art, architecture and literature that were the products of religion, but not in a religious context, and not at the expense of forgoing secular alternatives. Someday all of this nonsense may be considered the myths and fables of a primitive people, and temples and mosques may be historical exhibits. But they are not today, and as long as they are associated with these terrible religious ideologies I choose to not have anything to do with them.

Finally, you have not addressed the points that I brought up about regarding creating secular alternatives that are based on naturalistic and scientific understanding. The time that we spend assuaging religious sentiments of friends and co-workers is time not spent on more meaningful alternatives such as museums or planetariums.

You cannot expect that your personal preferences regarding acceptance of religious rituals must apply to all others. I have already said above that if one wants to go to a temple or a church, there is no one stopping one from doing so. You can go with your theist or atheist friends and do as you please. The issue is that when this is done in an office setting, where personal beliefs are forced upon a captive audience who are socially expected to participate, it constitutes discrimination. In other words, if you want to do it, go ahead. Don't bring it into the office where it affects the personal space of those who are working there.

The freethought movement is about pluralism, as I have often said. No one is saying that you must not do what you want to do. There are many accommodationists, and they are all welcome to do as they please. But if a freethinkers chooses to have nothing to do with someone's religion, that is a fundamental right.


"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#16
Ajitha,

I do agree with you, I think one should not bring his/her religious ideology in work place, and education institutions.

I think i have to work on this subject more before making any claims or statements.

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#17
@all: Very nice thoughts. Here's my 2 cents.

There are two separate issues being dealt here. One is whether any ritual / discussion related to religion is pertinent in an office environment, and the second is whether as naturalists, we can / should enjoy religious rituals.

The answer to the first one, as universally agreed is a BIG NO NO. Even mere discussion is a very bad idea, becuase as Ajita mentioned it affects your work life by a HUGE amount. So the answer here is pretty obvious.

The answer to the second one is a little hazy. I wouldnt jump the ship with Ajita and declare that we should all forego all such rituals / traditions, nor would I say that we should "encourage" them. There might be a middle ground.

@Ajita
Quote:Of course we can enjoy the art, architecture and literature that were the products of religion, but not in a religious context, and not at the expense of forgoing secular alternatives. Someday all of this nonsense may be considered the myths and fables of a primitive people, and temples and mosques may be historical exhibits. But they are not today, and as long as they are associated with these terrible religious ideologies I choose to not have anything to do with them.
Good for you! But I hope, that in your haste for rejecting religion, you dont reject something without analysing and pondering over it. I hope that if and when religion out of accident does produce something good, you will recognize it and adapt it into your own way of life. We should not reject anything based on its label, but instead by its content.

Personally, I like celebrations of all kind. I love fantasies, I love food, and I love partying. But I dont like to celebrate an event detrimental to mankind's growth, like holi! But Diwali on the other hand is a celebration of light inside us. Although I do not literally believe in a light, I can easily relate it to a celebration of life and nature! I'll still be rejecting the soul stuff with my relatives, but i'll be positive about the need of a celebration for life. I'll be against crackers, especially on roads, but aerial fireworks and sweets will be a big yes yes smile.

Quote:The time that we spend assuaging religious sentiments of friends and co-workers is time not spent on more meaningful alternatives such as museums or planetariums.
Do we account for every second of our life with useful deads? We need to spend time propagating secular celebrations, true. But I dont see much truth in the above argument.

But ultimately, I do agree with you, that its not a single solution for everyone. Which reinforces the need for freedom of choice from such activities. And also the various arguments in this thread show the need of a pluralistic approach.

"Neither naturalists and supernaturalists can responsibly claim to know in advance, as inquiry proceeds, what existence must encompass." - Tom Clark.
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#18
(28-Oct-2010, 11:26 AM)mohankarthik Wrote: The answer to the second one is a little hazy. I wouldnt jump the ship with Ajita and declare that we should all forego all such rituals / traditions, nor would I say that we should "encourage" them. There might be a middle ground.

That is not at all what I was saying at all. I never said anything to the effect "we should all forego all such rituals / traditions". Towards the end of your post you actually agreed with the idea that it is about choice and pluralism is what its about. I said:

Quote:"You cannot expect that your personal preferences regarding acceptance of religious rituals must apply to all others. I have already said above that if one wants to go to a temple or a church, there is no one stopping one from doing so. You can go with your theist or atheist friends and do as you please."

Implying that "we should all forego all such rituals / traditions" (emphasis added) is the exact opposite of what my position is on this issue. It should be up to you.

In reality, we will all draw the line at some point. We are talking about this in black and white, but social relationships are too complex for that. Depending on the issues/events and the individuals/situations we will all tend to have differing reactions on such value-laden decisions.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#19
Ahh sorry for the wording! Damn it, no matter how many times I proof read, I still get something wrong. Rephrasing: " I wouldnt jump the ship with Ajita and declare that I would forego all such rituals / traditions" :P. A simple pronoun change works magic smile.
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#20
This "Puja"s are not only in offices...what surprizes me most is the "Puja"s in schools, universities, and other education
institute is what troubles me the most. At least leave educational institutes alone....Any religious ritual is completely personal affair and must be done in private without bothering others. Like smoking is banned in public places,
puja should be banned too. I am in an govt. educational research institute and we have "Saraswati Puja" and people keep string theory books with tilaks in fornt of the idol!
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#21
(31-Oct-2010, 03:45 AM)nilanjan.sircar Wrote: I am in an govt. educational research institute and we have "Saraswati Puja" and people keep string theory books with tilaks in fornt of the idol!

Lol Not surprised, but it still blows my mind!
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#22
Some of these rituals seem completely meaningless, like the ones worshipping physics books (Big Grin)

However the main issue seems to be the superstitious beliefs about the so-called "divine forces" supposed to be residing in all objects. We need to confront such mindless backward superstitions with science. Before some charlatan comes up with "its all about the quantum energy inside", we should point out that there is absolutely no scientifically valid reason to worship quantum energy.

I realize that some people (especially "pious ones") will be absolutely shocked when anyone suggests that the mud idols they worship contain nothing at all "divine" or "holy" in them. We can demonstrate this by physically destroying the idols and seeing that nothing at all happens to the person who does that act. My point is that we should not be afraid of hurting the "sentiments" of superstitious people by going against their superstitions.
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#23
I want to share a story...I attended a lecture series by Prof. Amal Kr. Roychowdhury (known for
Roychowdhury's equation in General Relativity) as a school kid. He made wonderful comment.
He was teaching us classical mechanics. He made the following comment:
Let us consider electrons moving in a conductor to give electricity. There can be an equivalent and correct explanation by saying it is caused by some supernatural ghosts or gods etc. But we don't
understand the mind of supernatural, but we can correctly describe the dynamics of electrons through mathematical equations. So with electrons we can build radio, bulbs, tv etc, but with supernatural particle we have to be happy with only the explanation!
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#24
Guys there are government orders here in TamilNadu to put up extra lights in government run offices for pongal , etc .. and when was religion took a big step in goverance ?
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