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From: Mohan R Sagar (
Date: Mon May 17 1999 - 20:16:56 PDT

Mani Varadarajan wrote:

> But, to get back to reality, there are far more
> pressing issues than people, women or men, abandoning
> traditional clothing.  In fact, this should be the
> least of our worries, as these are mere external
> symbols of tradition; without the internal, these
> are meaningless.
> Mani

Agreed to a certain extent - with one exception,
thiruman.  Every culture has and needs some
external symbol that represents the spiritual,
even those cultures that are iconoclastic in
nature.  Psychologists and anthropologists are
only now becoming aware of the deep impact these
symbols can have in defining an individual's sense
of purpose and identity.  The Catholic rosary
beads, the Jewish Yarlmuke, and the Islamic prayer
cap (I cannot recall the traditional name of it at
the moment) are all excellent examples of such
simple outward expressions of faith.

As a kid, I was somewhat rebellious to the whole
idea of wearing thiruman, poonal, etc.  While
adulthood brought me back to my senses somewhat,
it is only after joining this forum and
interacting with other bhAgavathas that I have
fully realized the psychological and spiritual
benefits of traditional symbols and clothing.  

While we must most certainly allow for cultural
adaptation and change to some extent, I think that
as bhAgavathas, we should at least take the
responsibilty of encouraging the "cultural
Iyengars" in our communities to adopt wearing
thiruman, or at least srIchUrnam on their
foreheads when they visit a temple or participate
in a religious function.   I think their
acceptance of this will be a big first step in
being re-introduced to the riches of our