It is undeniable that the youth in this country will keep up the traditions, culture and religion. I am fascinated by our youth particularly when it comes to their participation, dedication, and sacrifice in times of ceremonies, festivities and festivals. I went to different places of worship in Chitrakoot, Poudre d’Or, Quatre Bornes, and Vacoas during the days of Puja (Ganesh Chaturti, Govinden and Navratri) and observed the youth embracing the traditions of their ancestors. I felt relieved that these people will be the torchbearers of the future generation including my grandchildren.
I carried out a micro-survey at those ceremonies to find out how the youth felt about those religious meetings and about their religious beliefs. The questions which I generally posed to the sampled few among the many youngsters attending those ceremonies were couched in such a way as to give an idea about their religiosity. What made them happy at these gatherings? How did they pray? In public, alone, with family or in prayer groups? Did they read the religious scriptures? When worried or nervous, did their faith help them to calm down? Did praying give them strength when they were upset? Did they listen to religious songs and talk with others about their religious beliefs? I had in many instances pursued the conversation on the phone.
The replies reflected their religiosity (religiosity is defined for the purpose of this text as one’s beliefs and practices related to a religious affiliation or to God.) The youth were happy attending those ceremonies. The majority of them said that they came on their own will though their close relatives were also in attendance. It was satisfying and fulfilling for them. They were pleased to participate in such religious gatherings. A handful few read some scriptures but most of them listened to religious songs and time permitting watched TV serials related to religion. They felt great whenever they were asked to give assistance or to perform tasks related to the organisation of such ceremonies. A few said that they carry (as pendants/photos) of their respective Idol God or Goddess Durga Maa. They meditated everyday and that help them cope with difficult situations.
To supplement the above findings, I looked into research papers on religion and found among the numerous papers about studies carried by Werner, Benson et al. These have shown that religiosity has been a basis to give important meaning to the lives of adolescents and their psychological well-being. For example, there is a decreased substance use, in depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, violence and delinquency, and a more positive effect, better relationships, self-esteem, positive mood and life satisfaction.
These findings suggest that religiosity is important for the youth. It is becoming part of their identities and it is beneficial in terms of providing security, comfort, peace, inspiration, strength, well-being, and meaning and purpose of life. The ceremony may differ from religion to religion but the impact on youth and by extension on society is the same.
- Published in print edition on 23 October 2015