At the crack of dawn one wakes up to a prayer, rubs his palms and soothes one's eyes - a tradition or a ritual handed down over generations. One can be dismissive about their utility or can glorify it. The question is where does the truth lie? (pun intended).
Even before the official dawn of science all living beings have explored various methods of upliftment. They also pass the learnings from such experiments to the generations later. However, not everything can be explained and understood as some things need to be experienced. It was this realization that made the great teacher in Vishnu Sharma to classify students as one who can grasp by hearing, another who can grasp by reciting, a third who can grasp by writing, a fourth who can grasp by performing and a fifth who will have to be taught through stories. It is for the last two categories that traditions were created as handed down as beliefs.
We use salt extensively. It is a preservative for humans while a destroyer for many other living forms. A bath in sea water was considered to be cleansing and today pranic healers tell us that the easiest health tip is to have a salt water bath. It was said salt should be minimized for consumption while can be taken on the skin level- the logic being to safeguard the good bacteria within while acting as a deterrent to others which seeks to make inroads.
Similarly, an early riser who finished his daily chores early was considered healthy. Performing of daily chores involved physical exertion which was an exercise for which we visit a gym at a cost. Drawing water, chopping wood, tilling the farm, cleaning the house or milking the cows or fetching milk - all involved the exertion physically with an emotional satisfaction.
The spreading of cowdung which is an accepted disinfectant on the floor which also acted as a room freshener and air conditioner was a tradition handed down and after a few generations people lost sight of its values and held on to it as a belief or ritual. It was not the fault of the person who handed it down but the lack of understanding of the person who picked it.
The tropical invite to the early sunshine and the need to keep out the evening heat probably was the reason which designed a east facing residence. The winds blowing north east and south west directions paved way for the natural ventilation. This design may not be universal in acceptance but suited the Indian topography. The lack of appreciation of the experienced wisdom behind this led to it being classified as dubious.
Moving forward to the designs made out of flours around the houses and within ensured the live and let live policy whereby the insects were given enough so as to not aspire for the human share. The vermilion and turmeric in the doorways were in fact insect repellants. Instead of smearing them, some aesthetic persons had innovatively placed designs which formed the basis for another belief.
Prostration, kneeling or touching another's feet was a combination of exercise and the cultivation of a sense of humility in people.
The turbans of the Sikh community was necessitated to keep their flowing hair under control. The need to cover the heads while entering a shrine was to prevent the hairfall in the common area.
The needs to be distinct as a group also made religions adopt different symbols. In ancient civilizations it was not proper etiquette to question someone on certain status. The symbols indicated them. A bachelor would wear a two line thread and a married man a four line thread. A spinster would not sport a mangalsutra. On the arrival of an elder as a mark of respect the younger one would remove his angavastra and place it as a waistband. This is similar to the act of doffing the hat.
The tradition of fasting which unites all religions is meant to clean the digestive system at a physical level while it teaches one the value of food at a philosophical level. The tradition of having an alumni meet or a fest for a reunion is also replete with its emotional values.
Should one be charitable to the traditional readers of a blog by giving them a respite as charity is also a tradition? Of course, the broad hint taken till a further post on some more tradtions!!!