Necessity Becomes A Ritual
Swamiji had a pet cat, which licked food off all the plates and bowls at dinner-time. So the swami told one of his disciples to tie the cat to a tree nearby till dinner was over, so that the cat would not mess with them.
A few years passed. The swami died. After some more years the cat died. One of the disciples remembered the old swami, and said it was auspicious to tie a cat to a tree nearby during dinner-time. So they bought a new cat and tied it to the tree!
Earlier it was necessary to tie the cat to the tree. Now it was a ritual.
From necessity comes a solution, then becomes a ritual and continues even when necessity is not there.
In olden days people would circle their thaali with a handful of water before starting the meal. This was to wet the earth to prevent ants from wandering into the thaali. Now-a-days many people circle their thaali with a handful of water on a sunmica dining table at home!
Margaret Thatcher upon becoming PM visited a southern port of England. There was a tower. She climbed the tower, met a soldier, asked him what is his duty, and he answered, I am here to watch for Napoleon’s navy and shout when I see them approaching.’ Waterloo was 1815, this was 1978! Napoleon died, the post continued!
During the World War canons were used. These were bulky affairs; they were pulled by two horses and had five soldiers in attendance. One to feed the canon, one to fire, one to clean it, and two to hold the horses! When Sam Maneckshaw became Field Marshal he saw the army still employed five soldiers per canon (now there were no horses, but a motorized vehicle).
Sometimes, we fail to apply our minds to the reason behind the rule. That is when it becomes a mere ritual.