Old Customs, New Names – 2

FITNESS ROUTINES – THEN AND NOW   (Read the first part here)

 

  • Have you heard of Tower running?
  • Are you a regular Marathoner?
  • Do you fast regularly to detoxify as part of your fitness routine?
  • Do you like following extreme sports and body feats?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, there is a good chance that you are unconsciously following health and exercise routines prescribed by our ancestors in all their wisdom.

‘Oh come on! Don’t tell me our ancestors ran Marathons and did tower running,’ you say? Ok, so they didn’t actually run marathons and do tower running, but they did a lot of very similar activities. In fact, they had incorporated a whole lot of  simple exercises and health routines into our daily lives by making them part of religious rituals – the rationale being that when religion and God are involved, people would adhere to them with a sense of reverence and fear of divine retribution, remaining healthy in the bargain!

But today, in our hurry to discard anything traditional as being blind faith and superstition at best and religious frenzy at worst, we don’t even blink before adopting the very same things in the guise of exercise and sport. Who are we kidding?

Before someone turns around and accuses me of selling religion, let me assure them that all I am trying to do is bring forth the wisdom behind age-old customs, not peddling religion!

It was this quest that made me research into many of the so-called regressive customs to find out why our ancestors had instituted them in the first place. This  updated post from my archives aims to draw parallels between the ‘then’ and ‘now’ health and fitness routines. I have enumerated some of them here. Feel free to add more to the list as it is in no way exhaustive.

Note: Please do click the links to get a better idea of the subject. I have gone to a lot of trouble getting all the info!

Temples on mountains:

Mountains and religion are inextricably linked, with mountains getting spiritual and celestial sanctity in all religions.  For instance, many famous Hindu temples are on mountaintops — Vaishno Devi, Tirupati, Sabarimalai, the Char Dhams, Mt.Kailash and countless others. Not just Hinduism but other religions sanctify them too. Mt. Sinai is where Moses is supposed to have received the Ten Commandments and is sacred to the Jews. Prophet Mohammed is supposed to have had the first revelation on Mount Hira; Mount Koyas-san on Japan is home to one of the holiest of Buddhist shrines and Mount Fujiyama is another sacred mountain, which is climbed by thousands every year for both religious reasons and for sport.

To reach these holy mountaintops and the shrines therein, one had to climb hundreds of steps and sometimes trek through jungles. If that is not exercise, what is? Not just the climbing, but carrying water or milk on the shoulders for the abhishek added to the endurance factor.  Of course, even today many climb up mountains to temples but most do it as a dare or to broadcast it over the social media. Many avoid temples altogether! It is another matter that modern means of transport and cable cars are being pressed into service to help pilgrims. For the devout though, going by foot to a mountaintop temple is still considered a form of penance, or should we say, a form of exercise? Thousands of pilgrims still climb the hills of Tirupati, Sabarimala, Vindhyagiri at Sravanabelagola and Vaishno Devi, among others.

Steps edited

Faith vs Fatigue (Images credits: (top) murugan.org (bottom): http://www.bbc.co.uk

Tower Running:

So you think that it is blind faith and superstition to climb hundreds of steps to visit a temple? No worries: you can always do Tower Running, which is hailed as the latest in endurance sports. The participants run up the stairs of a skyscraper – the taller the better. Some of the world’s tallest buildings including the Empire State Building, the CN Tower and the Sears Tower are all part of this modern ‘pilgrimage!’ And when you don’t want to run up towers, you can always climb stairs in your own building – either empty-handed or with dumbbells for that extra exercise for your muscles. Up and down, up and down……

Kanwarias, varkaris and other foot pilgrims:

Our ancestors of all faiths walked for miles on their pilgrimages — the varkaris of Mahrasahtra; the kanwarias who travel for months on foot to reach Haridwar to bring back water from the Ganga on kawads slung on their shoulders; the devotees who do the Narmada parikrama — all 2600 kms of it — circumambulating the river from its origin to where it meets the sea and back — roughing it out on foot; those who do giri pradakshinam of sacred mountains like Mt.Kailash,  Annamalai and Triambakeshwar. Observing strict physical discipline and diet restrictions were prerequisites of these pilgrimages. These and many more such ‘treks’ and ‘marathons’ involving other mountains and religions were all part of our religious roots. And oh, for that added ‘thrill’: kanwarias are not supposed to put the container of ganga jal on the ground for the entire journey back!

marathon edited

The varkaris vs marathoners (Images credits: betterphotography.in and http://www.fitho.in

Marathoners and trekkers:

Today we have marathons. Everyone and their grandmother is a marathoner. Exercise regimen and diet restrictions are strictly followed to become fit for the run. And people of all ages and sizes run – some for a lark, some for a cause and others to share on social media. Treks on mountains rank a close second in this pursuit of sport.

Vrats and fasting:

Vrats were meant for cleansing the system and the day set aside for meditating on God. There are weekly fasts dedicated to a particular God, when often just fruits and milk are consumed. My mother had only tulsi water on Ekadashi day. Usually meat is avoided on vrat days by Hindus.  Muslims fast during the whole month of Ramzan and Catholics fast for 40 days during Lent – which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter; Jews observe Shabbat every Saturday, when all work including lighting the fire is forbidden. (Was it meant to encourage eating only raw food to detox the body?) More about fasting in other religions can be read here. By linking fasting to religion and spirituality, our forebears ensured that people remained healthy. Today religious fasting has become more of a fad and a farce which makes a mockery both of religion and the reasons behind it.

Fasting for Detoxification:

Fitness regimens advocate cleansing fasts and weekly fasts to rest the digestive system which loads up on junk food and snacks through the week.  For those who want to clarify doubts about the effects of fasting, here is the link. There are raw diets, fruit diets, milk diets and so on. There are also some weird diets that people follow to lose weight, including one where the dieter is supposed to give up everything except sunlight, air and water. (Didn’t our rishis do just that while doing penance for years?) There are vegetarian and vegan diets too. Bit make sure you broadcast that you are dieting for detox, lest someone assume you are doing it for religious reasons, God forbid! The best thing about being vegetarian is that it is trendy and what’s more, it comes with endorsement of western celebrities! Being a vegan is trendier still!

Exercises during prayers:

It is customary to go to a temple in the morning or evening, do a parikrama (the larger the temple, the better), prostrate before the deity, do sit-ups holding the ears in front of Ganesha, sit cross-legged while doing jaap or chanting while breathing rhythmically. Surya Namaskar is a composite health regimen that brings the early morning sunrays to energise the body and soul. Wonder how it got the fundamentalist tag!

Buddhists chant and meditate and do parikrama too. Christians kneel down, as also alternately stand up and sit down, ever so often while praying. Muslims sit in the vajrasana pose, prostrate, stand and sit during their prayers. Prabhat pheri is part of Hindu and Sikh worship, when devotees go on the streets singing bhajans and shabads before sunrise, especially during the winter months as the air is supposed to be ionically supercharged at that time.

Morning walks in the park:

Oh, but we do that even today! Most of us aimlessly walk around a jogging track in the early mornings and evenings, chatting with friends or a companion, or with music plugged into our ears to firmly to shut out all natural sounds. We sometimes stop to do yoga or stretching exercises and even a spot of meditation or indulge in bursts of artificial laughter. Did you say something about holding one’s ears in Ganesha temples? Pooh! We do brain yoga, no less! Why, I paid several thousands to learn it from the American teacher who is now in Delhi! If you don’t want to spend money, there are YouTube videos teaching you all about it!

My dear sir! If you were to go to a village school, any teacher will teach you how to do brain yoga – only it is called uthak-baithak – a form of punishment for minor transgressions!!

Walking barefoot and washing up:

Eastern religions require one to take off the shoes while going into the temple or during a religious pilgrimage. The soles of the feet have nerve endings, which get stimulated while walking barefoot as it is a form of acupressure. Acupressure corrects the energies flowing in various body channels by applying pressure on particular spots on the soles and palms.

Not just this, but washing one’s face, hands and feet before prayers is mandatory in mosques, temples and Gurudwars, though the latter two are not too strict about it. Washing one’s feet not only cleans them, but has the effect of cooling the body instantly. It was also customary to wash one’s feet before entering the house. Today, do we even take off our shoes/sandals after entering the house, leave alone wash our feet? Please do it, and see how refreshed you feel. Just washing one’s face is not enough.

Acupressure walking:

I have seen many of those who go for morning walks take off their shoes and walk barefoot on the grass and mud tracks. The dew and the springy texture of the grass are supposed to be refreshing and the small stones and rough surface of the mud tracks do the work of acupressure on the soles of the feet.

Walking on fire and piercing the body:

During the famous Tamil festival of Thaipoosam, dedicated to Lord Kartikeya, devotees pierce their cheeks and tongue with tiny vels (javelin like ritualistic objects) while they carry the kavadi filled with milk or flowers on their shoulders up the mountain to the temple. It is a big celebration in Singapore and Malaysia, where even foreigners take part in this ritual as can be seen in the picture below. This practice is based on acupuncture, which acts as an anesthetic and prevents pain and bleeding. Many temple festivals in the south have the fire-walking ritual when devotees walk barefoot on a bed of burning coal. These are variously dubbed as ‘psychotic’ and masochistic practices by skeptics. Perhaps if they did it for records, they would be heroes!

toungue edited

One for the Lord vs One for the records (Image credit: globetrottergirls.com and http://www.ecrazyworld.com)

Extreme sports and Feats:

The Guinness Book has a section where records involving bodily feats are featured.  I read of a man who got 1015 metal rings inserted into his body, including on his tongue — in a span of 8 odd hours. Another one did 50 marathons in 50 cities in 50 days. Others eat fire, glass, nuts and bolts and even entire cars — nothing masochistic about these, naturally. It is part of ‘extreme sports,’ for heaven’s sake!

All I am saying is that go running up the Sears Towers, pierce your body with anything you fancy and eat a railway coach if you want – but don’t go ridiculing traditional customs as superstition and fundamentalism.  I completely agree that most such customs are nor practicable in today’s world nor is it my intention that they be followed merely because that is the tradition. My plea merely is for people to acknowledge that these customs had a lot of merit health wise and try to benefit by them before junking them.

Have you read the first part? 

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56 comments

  1. jaishvats · · Reply

    I am also a person who tries to look at all customer with a scientific lens and they make a lot of sense… My father in law regularly goes for girivalam at Thiruvannamalai….i think the air itself has healing properties there thanks to the whole lot of medicines herbs in the surrounding flora…

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    1. As I mentioned in the post, our religious customs were all centred around healthy and clean living. By invoking the name of God, these were made mandatory. Girivalam must have inspired countless marathons and half marathons, I am sure.

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  2. Glad you could compare the new to the old thus unveiling the curtain of ignorance to the many in today’s generation.
    As they say fashion comes and goes…I am glad that humanity is also reliving those traditions that our ancestors used to cherish.
    No doubt, well researched Zephyr!

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    1. Thanks for the appreciation, Ruchira. It indeed needed a lot of research, which is why I have asked the readers to please refer to them all 🙂 I am very happy that the wisdom is coming back but why buy it back at such cost is my question. If we each looked at some customs that we have given up and which are still being practised by elders and rural folk, we can find so many that we can easily adapt for our own benefit instead of waiting for the west to tell that ‘brain yoga’ is a great thing!

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  3. This link between the old and the new was much needed. The old ways clad in the garb of religion does get the short end of the stick due the religious hues that it is attached to. However, I have always maintained that the traditions and rituals had very crystal clear reasons and they must be understood – the logical and the spiritual elements to do complete justice to it. The problem is when the die-hard religious hear ‘logic’ they tune you out, while the hyper modern tunes you out when they hear ‘religion’. And then much is lost in translation. As you have rightly established much of modern fitness regimes draw their basic elements from the religious rigours as practised over centuries.

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    1. Sumit! So wonderful to see you after so long! How have you been?

      You have said it all so well, I couldn’t have done better. Yes indeed. The customs rolled logical and spiritual thinking into the whole and you are also absolutely right about the one tuning out the other because of the terms involved. But the sad outcome is the peddling of our own wisdom back to us in silly avatars, as in brain yoga or tower running, wouldn’t you agree? I am working on this series from all angles and hopefully would be able to come up with more traditions that have immense wisdom in them. All we need to do is to keep our minds open.

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  4. Way to go, Zephyr! Keep cleaning up the cobwebs of our minds with such informative posts. We have been very deliberately taught to doubt the wisdom of our ancestors, we are such big time sufferers of inferiority complex that we will buy packaged wisdom from everywhere else but not look into our own home. We will buy all the ‘self-help’ theories from all the self-help ‘gurus’ from everywhere but will discard the teachings of our spiritual masters from times immemorial. We will keep on quoting from all the foreign bestseller authors but never bother to look into our own scriptures many of which are the sources of the wisdom re-packed and re-sold to us by these new age gurus. Of course, the original source is completely eradicated from these new age writings! Rajiv Malhotra has explained this process of ‘digestion’ very well in some of his writing.

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    1. We are muddled in our thinking, Beloo. There is no other description for the throwing out of everything that is traditional as being superstition, fundamentalist, regressive and the last but not the least ‘rightist’!! Call it colonial or fascination for packaging, but the fact remains that we need western endorsement of everything. I won’t be surprised if some of the things that are being flogged on social media suddenly become the gospel truth when touted by a foreigner. Why is it so difficult for us to accept that our ancestors of all faiths were intelligent and put the customs in place for a sound reason, mostly rooted in health? I remember reading about the ‘digestion’ process described by Rajiv Malhotra.

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      1. I think vedic religious practices got a bad rap because of the few unsavory practices that crept in. As a result we threw out the baby with the bath water.

        From the little true history of our people that vested historians have allowed to trickle through to us, it seems as if the rot had begun to spread even before the arrival of the British. For us, colonization did not begin in 1600… we had already been ‘domesticated’ for centuries by then.

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        1. Though the rot had seemingly set in, the ‘domestication’ had been achieved with the sword and other tools of coercion. But it was the colonial rule that systematically destroyed the customs, traditions and practices by sneaky means, setting up one against the other, all the while stealing our customs to customise them and export it back in a packaged form. Even if there had been no unsavoury practices, Hindu dharma would have got a bad name or no name anyway. Just completed reading Maria Wirth 🙂

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          1. I know exactly what you’re saying. And you’re right. Hinduism was bound to get a bad rap anyway.
            What’s with these people? What gives them the right to be so holier-than-thou? Gah!

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          2. Suddenly everyone seems to have become paranoid about Hinduism and are hell bent upon pulling it down. The Caste bill the UK, the CNN serial on Hinduism. Sometimes I feel happy that they are taking it seriously – out of fear that it is superior, maybe?

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    1. Thanks for sharing this link. I will add it to the first part of this series where I have dealt with this topic and talked of the Red Tent movement, which is based on the ancient Jewish custom of segregation during menstrual periods. Do read it if you have not.

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  5. It is the Lent season for us Christians and just this morning I reminded Hubby that fasting is good for health and hence religion incorporated it into our lives and then I see your post. We are going backwards but we refuse to acknowledge. Thank you for reminding.
    When I saw the recent advt for toothpaste with charcoal in it I wondered why it took them so long. I myself have used it when I was young and it did make your teeth shine. My FIL discarded it only much later while insisting that tooth paste is not good enough. And salt?

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    1. So good to know that the post came just when you were beginning your Lent, Asha! We simply forget what made our elders prescribe so many rituals and customs and merrily discard them as being old fashioned/regressive/superstitious. Thanks for reminding about charcoal and salt. That should come as part of another post about such things 🙂 Like you, even I feel upset that we are not giving credit to where it is due. Thanks for sharing on Twitter.

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  6. Bang on. We forget the wisdom and logic behind rituals and customs. It was not necessarily about religion. This is such a substantive well researched post. As Vinita says, only you could have penned it.

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    1. Thank you Alka 🙂 I would like the younger generation — at least those that can see the wisdom of our customs, to do some research on their own too. Ask the elders, even elders among our working people who can tell us more than a thing or two about what they were meant to do. My elder sister collected a lot of information this way, which she then researched as a medical professional and taught the new generations back — not packaged, but as solid age-old wisdom 🙂 We need our indigenous medical practitioners — the ayurvedic, yogic, unani, siddha and other systems to take active interest in popularising them for preventive health care and to reduce our dependence on harmful drugs and treatments.

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  7. Beat About The Book · · Reply

    You sound very convincing and perhaps there is truth in what you say. However for this new generation packaging is almost as important as the product if not more. And marketers are taking advantage of that. I still have to go back and look at some of those links. It’s fascinating, to say the least.

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    1. Oh yes, the packaging! Let them package the humble uthak-baithak as brain yoga and sell it back to us, but those who are paying for the same should at least know that they were smirking at the devout doing that in the temples dedicated to the God of wisdom! That there is definitely a lot of truth in our age old customs, which cuts across faiths and nationalities and which have been handed down by ancient and indigenous cultures. The Red Tent which I had mentioned in the first part of this series for instance is taken from ancient Jewish practice of segregation of women during menstruation. I would love it if someone undertook a scientific study of these customs to establish their relevance in today’s world and which gave the source of the same! Any takers?

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  8. Loved re-reading the post! Very exhaustive research done by you. I have only read a couple of links so far. I am also actively trying to see the wisdom behind customs and rituals without discarding them as old and meaningless. I hope more of us take pride in our own traditions whether we practise them or not and educate ourselves and our children better.

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    1. Ah, I was expecting some great discussion from you, Rachna. But you have warmed the cockles of my heart by saying that you are actively researching the customs! Great indeed. Wish more people could have your sensibility to see both sides of the argument and taking the best out them. I am sure the boys will grow up the richer for your efforts in this regard. Hugs.

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  9. Essentially, you have highlighted a point that I have always spoken of in person. If something traditional does not necessarily mean something right, why veer to the opposite end and think it necessarily means something wrong? Understand all the reasons behind a practice before you choose to either follow it or junk it – otherwise, you may be chucking out the baby by assuming that it is bathwater 🙂

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    1. Most of the time, the baby is thrown out with the bath water and when it is discovered, she is picked up, given a nice makeover and a new name to go with it 🙂 I think the middle aged and elders amongst us are keen to see that we reinstate the custom, suitably customised for the day and needs. Would you believe it that even this series is viewed as being ‘Rightist??’ That is the kind of closed mentality we are having to deal with today. That is why I thought it appropriate to link old and new and let the world see for itself.

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  10. Prema Raghuraman · · Reply

    Zephyr. … completely concur with you. Strangely, these facts were brought to my attention by my late beloved MIL more than two decades ago. She put it wonderfully when she said, ” the Indian mind was such in those days that if you gave them unvarnished scientific facts, the lay person would simply ignore them and the wisdom contained within. It’s only when you cloak the many scientific practices in the garb of religion, ritualism and culture was it acceptable to the masses.” That holds good even today. Great post, Zephyr. .. one that found resonance in me.

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    1. So good to see you here, Prems! It was indeed true that religion worked as a charm to get people do healthful things even while getting spiritually enlightened – depending upon each individual’s potential for advancement in that direction. However I won’t agree that the same hold true today. Quite the opposite in fact. If you were to read the comments, you would see that when these are delinked from religion they become more acceptable!! I am happy about that, but not about them mocking the customs themselves when someone follows them even in this day and age. Agree? I wish I could have met your MIL. She sounds like an amazing person from this and other anecdotes you keep sharing about her 🙂

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  11. Zephyr what a parallel you have drawn connecting exercise with religion. Perfect analogy ! Nice post.

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  12. Lovely, thoughtful, post, Zephyr.

    So many of our spiritual/ religious traditions seem to have been established for quite practical purposes! Giving healthy and beneficial practices a religious angle would ensure that people did not stop following them for some trivial reason or because of mere laziness. 🙂

    Yes, it does seem hypocritical to mock religious routines- and then follow the same for one’s health! But that’s the fashion nowadays….

    A few years ago I came across an interesting blog- “Hinduism – A Scientific Way of Life”- where the author has detailed the science behind many of our traditions. The blog has not been updated recently, but I still visit it occasionally to read some of the earlier posts. Here’s the link- http://scienceofhinduism.blogspot.in/

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    1. These are all connected to exercise and health routines but we still undertake fasts in the name of God and forget to meditate on Him, which was the main reason for instituting them. I had written about that in the earlier re-post of mine. The link seems interesting and I will bookmark it.

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  13. It must have taken quite some time to do this post, I believe. You have put all of them together. Old vs new. that is why they say, old is gold. old fashions also repeat. Likely, all these new methods of exercising must have scientifically been drawn from our good old methods. I have never been an exercise person…I hate going to the gym and working out. No offense to anyone who works out. For that matter, S is a religious gym goer. Rather, I like to do all the chores at home myself. Like dusting, sweeping, mopping, dishes, clothes…that is a lot of exercise than the 100 calories I burn in the gym. However, I am going once in a while these days to keep me in shape. 😛 You know last time in my India trip, we climbed the steps to Tirupathi. I was the first one to reach the top. 🙂 Btw, I am a vegetarian, not Vegan though 😉

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    1. Though I knew all the facts, I needed proof of the same and so went to all that trouble to find them. Do you know that along with religious rituals and customs that have become fitness routines, even household work is now part of exercises? I have seen them sing, ‘Let’s grind, grind grind’ and ‘lets’ sweep, sweep, sweep.’ Only they have no grinding stone or broom in their hands, but mimic the actions 😀 I had done a post on this one Artificially Natural. Do read it. Vegetarian is passe — one has to be a vegan to be noticed 😀

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  14. I am aware of all the practices we observe when we visited temples or were on fasts but could not connect them to the physical exercise and health part that our ancestors so cleverly mixed with religion.It is an insightful post.But in the modern day exercises that cater to agnostics and atheists too visits to religious places is eschewed.They can do at home, gym or in open with shoes on sacrificing the benefits of acupuncture of course.Nice post to show the wisdom of our forebears.Whether we like it or not, old order yields place to new order that is readily acceptable to the younger generation.But I liked the way you compared the old and new.

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    1. The beauty of those rituals was that one didn’t even realise that one was doing any physical exercise! But look at how we do thoppukaranrm today — just bend the knees a little and pretend to hold the ears — this is now touted as super brain yoga! It is more fashionable to say one is going to the gym than to the temple and so on. It was my aim to bring out the similarities and point out the hypocrisy in the attitude of one towards the other. thanks for the words of appreciation, KP.

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  15. What a comprehensive comparison !.we still do all these thing, my father always used to bring the kanwar from golagokaran,..and fasting is a routing for me..once a week..

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    1. When you say you fast for religious reasons, it is greeted with a wrinkling of the nose, but when you say you are on a weekly detox fast, you get looks of admiration 😀 I just drew parallels with both. Thanks for the appreciation, Renu.

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  16. We have to constantly din into the ears of modern youngsters about the efficacy of our religious rituals and practices, which aid one not only to gain a foot hold on the treacherous path of spiritual upliftment,but also tune up our physical health facing dire consequences due to modern dietary habits and sedentary life. They are not to blame, for the simple reason, they are not being properly being guided in the right path by their parents, who are always racing ahead in the rat race of modern living. Your brilliant article, I am sure, will instil in them and their parents, the necessity of reviving the faith and wisdom of following what has been prescribed in the VEDAS and tradition and not simply ape an alien culture, which only reinvents the wheel. I am quite sure, the message will not only not fall on deaf ears, but also make them sit up from their reverie of complacency and take it in right earnest, seriously .

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    1. I understand your points, but I feel that the customs and rituals of yore can’t be practised in this day and age in those forms. What I wanted to highlight basically was the how the modern fitness routines are all borrowed from our age old customs even while the proponents of the latter mock the religious rituals. There is little tolerance toward everything traditional which is not a healthy thing. It is true that change is the constant in life and we should all go with the flow, we should acknowledge the contribution of ages old customs to our life in whatever form they are being practised today.

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      1. I entirely a free with you. We have to keep ahead of our times,but still we should not forget our moorings. That is the reason, we have to keep reminding them of our hoary past and traditions, which can be altered to suit modern times. Even MAHA PERIYAVAL advocated a similar approach.

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        1. Oh yes, that is the reason I did this post in the first place, GNB! We have to remember our roots to be able to grow wings and fly!

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  17. This is so interesting!! Very well researched and well written!!

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    1. Thank you for reading and appreciating, Fab 🙂

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  18. After realizing the perils of modern living, we are all going back to the wisdom spouted by our forefathers. Shunning processed food, instant meals and embracing home cooked simple meals. But I’m not sure how many of us will take the religious route to embrace fitness 🙂

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    1. Oh, did I sound as if I am advocating climbing mountains to keep fit? I am not at all one to advocate extreme religious rituals as I follow my heart and body’s dictates where these are concerned. What I find offensive is the mocking of the age-old customs while following similar routines in expensive fitness centres and gyms. I have a whole series in mind, where our customs have either been thrown out or have been adapted to suit modern lifestyles. Wonder if it will be read, though 😦

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  19. My mother and grand mother too were fasting just with tulsi water on Ekadashi day and eat before sunrise on Dwaadashi day! Some took poha or fruits but these two, took notheing.

    I loved the way you compared the rituals in all the religions. Haha for saying that the youngsters go for marathon for the sake of their pictures in twitter and fb.! It is true!

    I can see lots of research here in this post. It was good to know so many things in one post. Thank you, Zephyr!

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    1. Oh yes, they ate an early lunch on Dwadashi with special items like amla and agathi keerai to detoxify the system further. We have so many rituals rooted in science and health but have discarded them as being old fashioned and religious. I merely searched for the links to the things I already knew, but thanks for the compliments 😀

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  20. Had never thought in theis way and yes, only you could have managed it 🙂

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    1. I have only written about the arduous routines and not the regular ones. There are hundreds of such routines which we use without knowing why we are following them or have discarded in our infinite ‘wisdom.’

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  21. Lot of wisdom in the post. I do agree that the premises may have been very noble but they have been disfigured and mutilated. Fasting has never worked for me. I get headaches. With my kind of physical activity, I need my carbohydrates and proteins. Besides all those mithais make me nauseous. Now if someone fasts, I have no problem. I even appreciate their resilience but if they look down upon me, well they are asking for it :-). I have a problem with religion, Gods and enforced spirituality. I meditate; I chant but I cannot connect with a deity. Again if it does not come from within, I would rather not go to a temple. And those in the city hardly offer you any exercise anyway. So yes, I enjoy my evening walks without fail. It is also uplifting to my spirits to see flowers in bloom, smile at kids playing and wave to my friends. I think the key is in awareness and choice. Treat your body and mind with respect and nourish it with nutritious food, good thoughts and exercise of whatever kind appeals to you :). I believe completely in your last line — Live and let live!

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    1. After reading the comments I went back and brought the penultimate para to the top — because I felt that my readers thought that I was trying to sell religious rituals 😀 Actually, there are many many customs and routines that are scientifically valid even today but as you pointed out, it is not possible to follow them in those forms. So we have devised newer means of doing the same things. What gets my goat is when people refuse to see that they are all age-old customs and not at all modern and hi-tech. The motivation is also different — from being followed due to faith, to being done solely for health or for the record books. As long as one doesn’t pull the other down, all is well, right?

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    2. Of course, the old wisdom bottled in a new, expensive garb has been beautifully brought out by you.

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  22. Oh my dear Lord! Only you, and I seriously mean, only you could have written this. And yes, such truth. With every new diet/exercise that comes in the market, I think new bottles, old wine. Beautifully done, Zephyr. Sharing it.

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    1. Thanks for the share, Vinita. And it is such a pleasant surprise to see you here 🙂 I am happy you saw just the comparison and didn’t assume that I was selling religion 😀

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  23. I think only you can write such an article not just drawing parallels but going behind the science of it. Thanks for doing this and I think we all need to read in this time and age.

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    1. The post on fasting which had re-posted actually had the beginnings of this one and I just elaborated on the various routines. Good to see you here after a long time.

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  24. Zephyr, what a post! Drawing analogies with myths, mystic and modern day exercising fads! Very well conceived post with so much information!

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    1. Glad you liked it, Rahul. I merely wanted to look at the similarities between the old and the new and illustrate that the ‘new’ is actually very old and time tested 🙂

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