15 July, 2012


July 15, 2012
A German court has ruled that the Muslim and Jew practice of male circumcision is tantamount to perpetuating cruelty. This has understandably outraged the two communities [for once they are united!] and the German government has hastened to promise taking suitable steps to allow the practice.

But back home, specially in Gujarat, I see a practice that appears nothing but barbarous to me: The devout Jain offer diksha - the ceremony to initiate the process of surrendering a child to God. Now this little child must undergo total transformation, beginning with renunciation, severing all relationship with family, giving up beauty and taste... [I am also told that in this, the hair is plucked off the skull, till s/he turns completely bald]

I have seen many very cute, very innocent Jain children walking bare-feet in hot sun clad only in a white cloth, devoid of all but the barest minimum accompaniments, in far flung areas, travelling from one tirthsthan to another.

I wonder who took this decision? Yes, the child's consent may have been obtained. But a child under 18 who can't even vote, can't enter a valid contract.. how can s/he decide such a major life-change?

Let's ponder - and I earnestly invite Jain friends to join this debate - if such practices deserve to be disbanded.

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