Thursday, September 15, 2005

NOT Benign Cultural Tradition

I’ve just finished digging through three dusty boxes of books to find what I was looking for to help me write this entry.

The idea for it came to mind yesterday when my house was reverberating to the loud beat of drums from outside. This went on for about an hour. I had an idea what it was about but it wasn’t until I actually saw the 6’ high, big fat, elephant headed, ganesh idol in front of my house that my suspicions were confirmed.

It’s rainy season, time to make ganesh idols and put them up on little stages in every neighborhood. Time to worship them and sing and dance and throw pink powder on each other, time to take the expensive, sometimes gold, silver, and even diamond covered idols and throw them in the river. Yep, that’s the festival. Ten days of worshipping and then on the last day, the idol gets dumped into the river.

The noise of drums that was bothering me yesterday was increased by the shouts and yells and cheers of teenage boys. They danced and banged the drum and shouted. And that is what had me digging through unpacked boxes of books this afternoon. I was looking for Breaking Strongholds in Your City edited by C. Peter Wagner. I read it about three years ago and something from the book stuck with me, mainly because I had personally experienced it to be so.

The book deals with idea of spiritual strongholds over certain areas of the world and why this is so and of course, what we as believers can do about it. On pg. 41 it says, “The question that plagues many people is what sustains them (dynasties of darkness). If the misplaced choices of earlier generations allowed demonic forces into certain neighborhoods, how do these evil powers maintain their tenancy rights across centuries or millennia?... One major answer to this question is found in the authority transfers that occur during religious festivals, ceremonials and pilgrimages.” He goes on to say on page 42, “These celebrations are decidedly not the benign, quaint and colorful spectacles they are often made out to be. They are conscious transactions with the spirit world. They are opportunities for contemporary generations to reaffirm the choices and pacts made by their forefathers and ancestors.”

And lastly, here is what brings me to my point (pgs. 41-42), “Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of children a day are born into these enchanted systems around the world. Nearly all of them grow up hearing about the lie, but it is during puberty rites and initiations that many of them feel its intense gravitational suction for the first time. The power of the lie, fueled by demonic magic, is called tradition; and it is tradition, in turn, that sustains the territorial dynasties.” (emphesis mine)

Man, is that so right on. I looked out and saw these 13 and 14 year old boys, totally caught up in the frenzy yesterday. And not only yesterday but month by month as “cultural traditions” continue to come. That original contract with the devil is being signed over and over and over again.


heather said...

Becky - I so appreciated this post. I got the link to your blog from Gram (a.k.a. Aunt Bet) a while back and have been keeping up with you & your life. I sometimes don't know how you do all that you do. So much of what you say brings back such vivid memories of Bangladesh. I just thought that everything you said here was so very true. What people consider to be just part of culture, so harmless & interesting to observe is in fact of Satan. Just wanted to tell you that I appreciated all that you had to say & "Right on Becky!".

Rebecca O said...

Thanks Heather, Glad Aunt B passed it on. And, yes, you would know all about it I'm sure. Thanks for leaving a comment, they make my day.