Faith is intertwined into everyday life here to a much greater extent than in the US. It would be cruel and inaccurate to call it blind faith, I think, but they follow the words of their holy mythology very literally and without question. My brother was telling me a story that had great similarities to that of Noah's Ark, and I told him that in Christianity we have a very similar myth. He told me that it was no myth, it was the truth. Whereas I take most of the Bible's stories as metaphorical, my family, and most other Indians that I have spoken to, quite literally believe every tale, every miracle that has been worked by their gods, even though, like in the Bible, some of them are ludicrous.
This devotion also lends itself to faith in other forms of mysticism that are not directly related to Hindu religion. There is a cult astrological devotion in this country - it's actually very similar to the planetary work that Professor Trelawney has Harry do (I'm sorry for more Harry Potter references). Mars sits in the 12th house tonight and that sort of thing. Anyway, Pratik has a friend who is an astrologer. I hadn't met him before, but given my birthday, time, and location, he was able to formulate a series of life predictions about me. Now there is no credence to these predictions. It remains to be seen whether or not he is right.
There were a few things that startled me though - he predicted, three days before it happened (and I was there to see his prediction) that I would have a problem in my left eye. I completely forgot about it because I mostly disregard this astrology as BS. But three days later my left eye was swollen and irritable. Pratik reminded me of the prediction, and I was quite surprised.
In his prediction write-up, this friend included a few paragraphs about my nature and personality, and I must admit, about 75% of the time he is spot on, so directly, precisely accurate that it's hard to believe that it's chance.
Now I'm going to talk about another form of truth-predicting that my family does. There's this guy who comes who subscribes to a Japanese-originated form of healing/mysticism/mind-reading called Raki (that might not be how it's spelled but that is how it's pronounced). He came to the house a couple weeks ago. He had never met me. He asked me the usual introductory stuff - where are you from, how many brothers and sisters you have, all that stuff. Nothing that he could gauge anything from. Then he told me "your favorite school subject is history". Which is right, and there is no way he could have known this. The scary thing is, in their country, history is not even a subject. So for him to so accurately select history is to pick a topic that he really doesn't even consider a topic. He spent about 15 minutes telling me things about myself and my family, again with about 75% accuracy. The Raki-uncle has been doing healing work on my Mom, who has problems with her knee and with depression. He's also apparently going to see Akshay successfully through his exams. Pratik is trying to lose weight - the Raki man has given him very specific advice on exactly what to eat on different days in order to do so.
I'm not a religious guy, and most religious and beliefs of this nature, I kind of take with a grain of salt. But I mean, these guys knew a lot about me. There's plenty of proof for me that their stuff works, all of their astrology and Raki mumbo-jumbo. In the US, this kind of junk is laughable. But here, most people subscribe to it, and worryingly enough, it seems to work. I feel like some crazy idiot listening to it, but I've seen it work.
It creeps me out. It also makes me think.