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Recently - lots of our family members are questioning us on the beliefs of our religion. Could you please explain in detail the following:

Why do we not light the diva when a baby is born in the family?

Re: Diva

Dear Pranbhai Dhanak (EDITOR)

I think I have an answer to your question on diva and child birth. The answer to your question is:

Pollution, is a concept among Haviks*, arises from three types of sources.
1. Bodily excretions (Faeces, urine, blood, pus, menstrual blood and saliva)
2. Kinship (birth and death)
3. People of other casts (Haviks were the highest caste)

How do we pollute our self?

Meat in any form was polluting and certain meats were more polluting than others.
We eat with our hands and because hand touch our food and saliva (through lips) and vice versa. Therefore we have certainly contaminated our food. You are called to be polluted (muttuchettu). Removal of pollution involves Taking a shower, Mantras and drinking some sort of fluid.
I think this is the reason when one is fasting on occasions for example Poonum / shivratri; s/he will take their food out first and will not allow food into her plate from others plate ( i.e. left over). This is simply to avoid contamination!

The second source of pollution is from kinship. When there is a birth in a family the pollution of mother which comes about because of the flow of blood, is shared by immediate family. The blood has contaminated the house and you have polluted your self.

To be able to worship the god, you must be in a pure state. The purest state is called madi. Therefore if you are polluted you are not allowed to worship the god and may not light fire (Agni Dev). I should also stress that giving birth is not a bad thing!

It’s also important to understand that the concept of pollution is very old. However some of the aspects have still being practised in different region of India. As far as I know (from sources) this concept was only practised amongst Havik but it now is practised by us too.

This could be the answer for your question! (see ref. below) You could ask any poojari at temple to verify this. I am sure they know better than I do! (I am a student!)

*Haviks are types of Brahmins
Ref: Hinduism; David R Kinsely, 1982, Prentic-Hall International publication,New Jersy


Re: Re: Diva

Although this subject was raised by Harsha Valjee several months ago, members found it a difficult subject to discuss on the website. We received a response who has requested to remain unanimous. This person has given very useful information on this subject, a tradition that is followed by Haviks - Brahmins.

As ours is information based and an educational website, for the benefit of our members, we have decided to have an open discussion.

I have attempted to give a balanced and a neutral view. It neither meant to criticize the beliefs that an overwhelming majority still follow nor endorse different opinions who question such traditions.

Why do we not light the diva when a baby is born in the family?

Following are the points that I would like to add to the response to VP:

When I raised this topic with few priests and elders, I got various explanations and opinions. Some elders couldn’t give any explanation but said that they simply follow the family tradition. Some knowledgeable priest explained that it is written in our Hindu Dharma.

I hope my following compilation of my research useful to our members.

Menstruation is a natural process but is not something that is spoken about easily. Due to religious and cultural restrictions surrounding menstruation, the topic has always been a taboo one.

Within Hinduism there are many different beliefs and practices. The primary sources of the Hindu law are the scriptures - the Vedas and the Smrutis.

While Vedas are considered of divine origin, the Smrutis are of human origin. Smrutis contain laws, rules and codes of conduct to be applied by individuals, communities and nations. The Manu Smruti or "Laws of Manu", is one of the eighteen Smrutis of the Dharma Shastra. Despite some reservation, Manu Smruti is admired for the laws of conduct on family, punishments, crimes, etc., However there are some criticisms on some of the laws of Manu on conduct of women and caste system, naat-jaat.

However Manu Smruti is still chiefly consulted in all matters of Hindu Law.

It is important to note that laws given by the great sage Manu, in Manu Smruti although followed in some form even today, are not considered divine, and may be modified by the society to keep up with the times. Indeed, it has been speculated that in its current form, Manu Smruti represents laws that have been added or modified throughout the history.

Menstruating women do not attend temple services and a ritual bath is taken when bleeding ceases. Since menstruation is seen as "dirty", Hindu women do not light the diva in the shrines of their homes at the childbirth.

These religious restrictions cause women to feel "impure". The religious and cultural belief that menstruation is contaminating has serious implications for the way women view themselves and their bodies. They follow the tradition and rarely questioned the cultural belief of impurity during menstruation. In a recent study, over half the Hindu women described themselves as being "contaminated" and "dirty" during menstruation and consequently did not want to be part of certain religious and cultural events.

Our present society has changed considerably. Today’s youth do ask question and demands answers. Many Hindus now believe that a new Smruti to suit the requirements of this age is very necessary. In Hinduism, women are seen as Lakshmi (goddesses of wealth) who bring good fortune. They are revered for their roles as wives and mothers. On the other hand, women are seen as “polluting", "dirty" or "impure" because they are associated with menstruation and childbirth.

Many believe that the pollution and pureness does not depend on the blood that any person sheds from his or her bodies. It depends on your speech, action and deeds. It does not matter to God whether you are either ugly or 'impure' physically. God will accept any one as long as their minds and actions are pure.

Another sage may place before the Hindus of our days a new suitable code of laws. Is the time ripe for a new Smruti?