I remember my grandma, a widow. She used to get up early in the morning, spend her time praying and reading Bhagwad Gita. In the afternoon after a short siesta she regularly visited nearby temple for Bhajan and Kirtan. By evening she cooked dinner for the family. She was not very religious nor did she like cooking very much. She had made this her routine. She used to say that doing what we like is one thing which is good, but at some point in life we must also start loving what we do to be happy. She kept herself occupied without indulging in the family politics. After a lot of thought she found these set of actions were best to pass her time. In fact it began as a routine and became a ritual for her. Come what may, every day after daily puja, she went for bhajan kirtan and in the evening cook dinner for the family. She worked whole day to achieve this. This regulated her life and kept her busy throughout the day. It was a ritual which she herself chose. She was happy, active and always smiling.
My retired neighbour in Pune gets up early in the morning and jogs straight to ‘Parvati’. It is a hillock with a mandir at the top. He starts at 5 30 in the morning and comes back by 9 am every day. He has been doing this for last 30 years, with a firm belief that this exercise keeps him healthy. He is now 90 years young and works his daily routine for everyday morning ritual of scaling the hillock. As a result, he has controlled his diet and performs other supplementary actions such that he remains physically and mentally fit for the morning exercise. This has brought in a lifestyle change which has controlled his eating habits, sleeping habits and other daily chores so much that, he is 90 and still looks fresh and healthy.
Every Sunday my colleague does a local cleanliness drive. He cleans the area with broom, using all kinds of cleaning equipment which he has purchased over a period of time. He does it every Sunday regularly for three to four hours for many years now. People join him; sometimes miscreants litter that area during weekdays. Unperturbed whether people join or people litter he carries on with his ritual of cleaning bringing in a sense of satisfaction and joy of achievement. When one does something without any personal expectation his self-esteem gets a boost and over shadows any other desire. It gives the person immense joy and happiness.
A routine is set of actions regularly followed. Routine may be forced, or carried out without conviction or done because one has no choice. It is generally short lived. A ritual is more meaningful than a routine. A ritual almost changes the life style and makes it healthy. Mostly it is undertaken by choice and is enduring. A ritual is undertaken with faith. It is a result of commitment, sincerity and conviction. Rituals help to regain calmness and peace of mind. It helps to find happiness in small things. In the pursuit of happiness our endeavour should be to find a ritual which suits our mental makeup. A service minded person would choose social work as a ritual. A devotional person would choose a religious activity as a ritual.
Society has started associating rituals as actions based on religious blind faith and has earned a negative meaning. Blind faith are a bane to the society and harmful to self. Routines actioned with conscious faith are rituals. Rituals augment positivity and happiness. Action with conviction is better than doing it without it. Every action has to be an outcome of reasoning or it should have been driven by conscious faith. Any action resulting from lack of faith or lack of reasoning would be an ill action. Those who don’t have faith and those whose actions are not an outcome of reasoning are bound to fail. For secure and happy life, adopt a ritual.