What’s your relationship with your religion?

Anshita Banthia
4 min readOct 10, 2021

Before figuring out what’s that relationship like, let me provoke you to delve deeper into knowing your religion and who exactly has to decide what your religion would be.

Avoiding the political correctness of my upcoming sentences I would like to start off by breaking the most prevalent “deciding procedure” down for you.
My apparent religion Jainism is divided into two major sects-‘Digambara’, which my mother belonged to and ‘Svetambara’, which my father hails from. Each of these is further divided into more sub-groups. Before moving further, let me bring to your notice, the past tense that I have used for my mother’s Jainism group and the present tense for that of my father. When they got married, my mother’s religious sect got changed to the one that my father’s family follows after which she started following the latter. So the way there is a ‘maiden last name’ and a ‘current last name’ for women, there is also a maiden religion and a new/current religion for women, and just women. The institution of marriage is a little binding in terms of myriads of practices, isn’t it? But have you ever come across news about a man changing his religion after marriage to that of his wife’s? I have never either.

Our societies have become or rather had always been such that when in most of the urban households in the modern-day, we see women stepping out and working, the responsibilities have been distributed equally between the two, nonetheless quite a lot of drills and rituals yet remain the same. Marital equality still remains superficial there. (Of course, I am excluding inter-religious marriages here; the odds of them happening are still low enough). But why does it happen that way, does anyone compel them to change their religious beliefs? Yes, the Islamic women and those from orthodox families may not have much of a choice there, but what about those who are strong and privileged inside out?

As we think about what makes an independent woman erase all the lines among gender describing roles through her statements and actions but resort to adopting the religion of her husband, the reason doesn’t seem very subjective. The reason for it being her hypocrisy, her devotion to the in-laws, her love for her husband and everything he follows or that her faith and beliefs take a drastic swing after marriage, and get aligned with that of her spouse, is kind of vague.

But as obvious gets a female’s religion after marriage, as that gets of a child after birth. A child is taught the religious practices of its family and inherits their religion just like their last name. Does it all make sense? It does not to me. A baby, who is biologically born to two individuals, is just biologically born to two individuals. This does not make it spiritually or religiously identical to them. Questioning the ongoing customs is either shunned or is expected to shun.

I remember one day as a child I tried to hold a tiny bug, hostage inside a bottle cap. Happily, I ran to my mother and told her about my win over the poor creature, which only made her disappointed in me. She explained to me that each creature no matter how minuscule, is created by God and has a soul and how wrong was it to capture or trouble it in any way. I remember how faithfully she told me that God keeps a record of all the good and evil deeds committed by us so there is no good reason for us to speak lie, disrespect or hurt anyone. She with her caressing hands asked me to join my hands and apologise to God for troubling the insect. And so I did. Ever since then I would pray to God every time I felt lonely, grateful or wanted his blessings, up until lately, because as touching as it sounds, it took me a long time to understand that this notion is not entirely true. Worshipping God invigorates many people, as It did me, but I believe that temples and shrines are places with boundless positive energy, for us to just experience peace and relief and not blindly offer milk and water to the idols.

Coming back to the first question- What is your religion?-I am an atheist born to two individuals who practice Jainism, and to this day, the fact that I can’t disclose this to them scares me. My mother always insists on visiting the temple more often and last night as I tried to explain to her that God resides not in temples but in everyone’s hearts, my words broke her heart.

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Anshita Banthia

A computer science grad, who loves to write about the deeper and underlying aspects of life. I want to incite conversations through my content.