Showing posts with label astrology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label astrology. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Final word on the eclipse

I posted a more detailed post on my thoughts on the eclipse, superstition and the media here on Skepchick. Enjoy!

Solar eclipse freaking people out

And on the heels of the article I posted yesterday about astronomers in India throwing superstition to the winds and watching the eclipse while in mid-flight, here's the other side of the coin.
Most pregnant women hope to avoid giving birth during an eclipse.
"None of the expectant mothers under my treatment are willing to have deliveries on Wednesday," Shivani Sachdev Gour, a gynecologist at New Delhi's Fortis La Femme hospital, told CNN.
In fact, there are critically ill patients who do not want to be in the hospital on the day of the eclipse, she said.
"It may not cause any physical harm to the baby, but it may affect the child's overall personality," said R.K. Sharma, who describes himself as a "remedial astrologer."


And what exactly is a 'remedial astrologer'? Was he held back a grade in Bullshit school?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Black ash and humiliation

I read this article this week about the practice of shunning widows because they are considered bad luck in Indian society.

The article says that this practice doesn't happen for religious reasons but rather because of 'tradition.' It doesn't go into a lot of detail of what that means so it's hard to say how much of this tradition is based on the Indian patriarchal society vs. something specific to the Hindu tradition.

Another article I found said:

Although the horrific practice of sati--requiring widows to throw themselves on their husbands' funeral pyres--was abolished in 1829, widows still undergo ritual humiliations. After the death of a husband, a woman is shorn of her bridal ornamentation; her head is shaved by the local barber and her body is wrapped in a stark white sari so she may not arouse carnal pleasures in other men.

The bright red sindoor, the red smear that a married woman wears in the parting of her hairline, is substituted by a vertical ash smear from the top of her forehead to the top of her nose. Her very presence is considered so inauspicious that even her shadow may not fall on a married woman lest her terrible fate befall the other woman.

I also saw this editorial today, espousing the benefits of Hinduism, presumably as a better option to Islam or Christianity. I was struck by the contradiction between the editorial:

You can become a Hindu without converting to Hinduism. If you follow the life of compassion, love, respect for others and their religions, respect you family and stay away from sex before marriage and extramarital affairs, believe in having only one spouse, love animals, and above all practice forgivingness (sic) above revenge, you are a Hindu.

And the CNN article:

These Hindu widows, the poorest of the poor, are shunned from society when their husbands die, not for religious reasons, but because of tradition -- and because they're seen as a financial drain on their families.

They cannot remarry. They must not wear jewelry. They are forced to shave their heads and typically wear white. Even their shadows are considered bad luck.

Even if this practice isn't tied directly to Hinduism, I think India in general has to move away from superstition so that society can move forward. In general, I think Hinduism is one of the more accepting and open religions but with the amount of focus it places on astrology and superstition, it's not exactly an ideal option.

The problem of widow mistreatment may be caused by a highly patriarchal society but the traditional religions like Hinduism and Islam are not doing anything to actively move people away from that patriarchy and barbaric practices like this.

Some more information: