Firstly, to answer a question a lot of people ask me, Yes, Atheism is Legal in India. But it doesn’t make it any easy to be one. In a country like India, a country where the term god earns second to none, where people would rather go bankrupt following traditions and rituals than live a luxurious life, where people turn into millionaires by Just begging at religious carnivals, where there’s are entire generations and castes of people whose sole purpose of existence and profession is to pray to god, if you really think that you can be completely free of any influence from religion, be an Atheist/Agnostic/Non Religious, then you are in for a Surprise. There are several Atheist Scientists and Atheist Celebrities  in India, and the Indian Atheist movement is on the rise, but it’s still at its basics.

Here’s a photo from when i shot in Kanchipuram, the city of Thousand Temples.

Note: The opinions and experiences here are my own, and i do not intend to hurt any faith or religion, i just am expressing my views towards religion.

Religion is the most ancient belief system known to mankind. People have always banked on it for hope, for courage and assumed it to basically anything that’s out of their control. This was also another tool used by sly/crafty people across the world for centuries, to fool the general folks, into believing in religions, for more than a hundred reasons, including instilling fear among them, keeping them in the dark about things, and having control over them, to state a few. They can pretty much be compared to a herd of sheep. this restricts people from a lot of things they can do and/or capable of doing, which, at few times is good, but it is now where close to all the damage it is causing to the humanity.

The God Delusion:

This incident happened some time ago.I was in depression, very deep, and i started acting very erratic. I told my parents that i lost interest in everything, job, business and higher studies. I said i wanted to travel, meet new people, and learn the world. So, like every other typical Indian family, they became sure that i have gone crazy. Immediately, the very next day, i was taken to a very remote place, close to my native, to consult a Priest. My dad, who doesn’t attend family functions, to take care of his business, dedicated his whole day to take me there. And the priest I’ve been taken to, uses sea shells as a sort of dice, to ask questions about future and answer them. Basically, a fortune teller.

And he tried counseling me into the only three things every Indian is apparently supposed to do. A Job, A Business or Higher Studies. I was adamant, saying I’m not interested in any, and wanted to travel, explore the world. He told me to wash my legs, a very obvious and clichéd distraction technique, so that he could tell some ‘secret’ stuff to my dad. Once i’m back, he told my dad to take me to another temple, and get a puja done, on a specific day, at a specific time. And so, dad gave up a couple more of his business days to bring me here again for the puja. And all of this, of course, happened with no respect to my consent. This is a common ordeal, all Atheists/Agnostic Indians go through.

It’s just ironic how people who studied in orthodox and religious institutions tend to turn into Atheists/Agnostics, more than others. I was of this kind. I was always skeptical, and i gradually started losing faith, and finally i turned agnostic. But just because you are out of it, doesn’t mean you can be excluded from all the hassle, or as they call them, Holy rituals.

Nope, nothing in India is that easy. You still have to attend all the rituals, even of those people your parents know and you don’t. Hell, whole family vacations are based on pilgrimages. I don’t understand how these people can visit 10 temples a day for 10 days and still not be bored. I’m not really surprised, though, because I’ve spent the best of my adolescent years, the college life, the supposed to be best part of your life, In the city of thousand temples. The points of interest in this place is singular. There’s no pub, no proper mall, just temples. At least two temples every street you enter.

I’ve seen people travel to holy places, the same one every single month, and they aren’t even close by. They travel 10 hours to and 10 more hours back, all in the name of faith. A lot of People hesitate to spend a 100 rupees on something that’s extremely necessary. But the same people still spend at least 3-4k just to go on a pilgrimage. and then some more money to put in hundis (the boxes where they collect the money/offerings given to the deity). This just breaks my heart. Why can’t they give this money to the poor instead?
But i think no Indian can be a true Atheist, maybe an agnostic at their best, because rituals are a major part of life. I am not allowed to get my hair cut on Tuesdays, Fridays, cut my nails on Fridays, Tuesdays, Monday evenings, Thursday evenings, shouldn’t step on the door frame, all of this, because? God!

The only thing i can tell to all those Atheists and agnostic people in India, all the best, may god bless you on this endeavor.