Shivratri an Indian festival in which millions of devotees pour millions of gallons of milk on Shivlings across the country. I have always found the ritual of pouring milk over stone deities deplorable particularly in a land where millions go to bed hungry every night (The linked site tells that 1/3rd of the world’s hungry are in India) and thousands of children die of malnutrition every day. This is a sad reality and nothing to be proud of and the milk devotees will pour milk tomorrow and the same will find its way to a gutter.
I am a Hindu and proud of being one, but I also feel that my religion gives me the flexibility of interpreting rituals with sagacity and keeping in mind the reality I live in. So if I am asked to offer milk on this blessed day then it could be a teaspoon or even a drop. Maybe I will just let the deity touch the packet and then give the entire pack to the deities children that crowd the lanes of temples, in the hope that their hunger today will be taken care of. I am sure God will approve this and send me the sought blessing.
It is time our rituals got revisited. The situation in our country is alarming: 42% of all the underweight children in the world live in India. 5000 children die every day due to preventable diseases and about 47% of adolescent girls in India are undernourished. Keeping this in mind waste of food of any kind is unacceptable, be it the honey and milk of our religious rituals, the waste at weddings and other celebrations or the grains rotting in the open.
True we can blame the government for not having sufficient silos or for not implementing pertinent legislation but the buck does not stop there. We as a nation are also responsible and must do our bit. Perhaps we could start today by donating the milk pledged to lord Shiva to hungry children who are the true image of God.
Donate the milk to children and gain blessing from their families.