A small step towards Scientific Temper
Posted: Saturday, December 10th, 2011 | Posted by: Narendra Nayak | Views: 16052
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Sometimes people decide to do things against the irrational even when they donít intend to! When my friend of half a century Shevagoor Mohan Kamath, who is a leading businessman and a well known cricketer in his younger days decided to celebrate his 60th birthday, rather when the members of his family decided to do it on the 10th December, 2011 they had not consulted any astrologer for an auspicious date or time as it was to be a totally secular event. It was a party for his friends and relatives. His little granddaughter Sapna would be coming from the US and it was a celebration of her birthday too. They were happy when the hall too was available without any problem. At no time was any priest or any astrologer was consulted for the auspicious time. But, only when the invites were printed and sent that they realized that the event was going to be on a lunar eclipse day and that too it was during the duration of the eclipse! In a place steeped with superstitions of all sorts, where even the Bar- restaurants that do a roaring business on Saturday nights are fully vacant due to scares of all sorts of diseases being caused by eating during an eclipse! Where the newspapers carried warnings as to the duration of the 'no food- no water' period, which was almost a full 24 hours, Mohan started getting calls from people asking him as to why he had decided to do such a thing as to have a dinner party during an eclipse! But, he was adamant- his logic was if the earth is going to come in between the sun and the moon why should I not celebrate my birthday on that day? There were those who told him that all the food would go to waste as none would eat!

But on the day of his birthday the hall was full, all his family and friends having turned out in large numbers despite the dictates of the superstition mongers about eating during the eclipse! Mind you neither Mohan nor the members of his family are atheist, rationalists or even rebels like yours truly. If I had done it, the remark would have been what more can you expect from him? They are all devout Gowda Saraswath brahmins and that they dared to break this taboo of eating during an eclipse is something that will raise the eyebrows of most! More than that organizing a public event is a step in the right direction- a small step indeed but a significant one. We do hope that many more such will be taken to trash all the baseless superstitions which are retardants of progress.

In a society where temples are closed, cooked food discarded and purificatory rituals followed after each eclipse it was a refreshing change to see someone defy the irrational taboos. That many others gave him company shows that there is some hope for the future. Well Mohan- wish both you and Sapna many happy returns of the day!

Narendra Nayak
President - Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations
Managing trustee, Aid without religion trust
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