Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
Man can’t be without ritual. Let’s be clear about it. Today is the Republic Day of India. What happens today in New Delhi and the capitals of other states is a ritual. There is a particular way you walk, a particular way you hoist flag, a particular way you behave. It is a national ritual. Even in communist Russia in Kremlin, three guards shot three gunshots in the sky everyday and perform a ritual.This is a ritual. Human beings can’t be without rituals. If your ritual is meaningful and environment friendly, then all the more better. A wise ritual is offering flowers, lighting a candle, creating love, planting a tree, distributing sweets, these are rituals with more meaning. And not killing an animal, that is not at all a good ritual. We don’t have any right to transgress other life. Violence or anything that pollutes environment can’t be a ritual. It is not a kind gesture to nature. If caring for the planet is considered a ritual or worship, that is the best ritual.In ancient Vedic times this is what they designed or considered. In one other school of thought around the world, going to temples and give bali (animal sacrifice) is a ritual. I won’t approve of those inhuman rituals. Ritual should be something that uplifts your spirit, that which elevates your spirit.In ancient times they call ritual puja. Puja – pu means out of fullness and ja means born out of it. So when you do something with full of gratitude, it is ritual. Even that has been distorted today.Human beings can’t be done away with rituals altogether. You can’t say, 'I don’t want ritual at all’. Have you noticed in homes where no ritual is performed, the energy is low? For there is no celebration, no vibrancy. Performing some sort of ritual, some sort of chanting or reading in home creates positive ions in the atmosphere and also has a good impact on children. That’s why I would say don’t be stuck too much with ritual but also don’t drop rituals altogether. Adopt a middle path. Like on Christmas you light a candle, you put up a Christmas tree.On Diwali you light lamps, decorate homes, exchange sweets, burn a couple of incense sticks. Also on Eid you clean homes, perform prayers, there is function. Whenever there is little bit of ritual, it creates a good atmosphere especially for children and develops a healthy, social, religious and spiritual kind of mind. Don’t you think so?