It’s now many years since I declared myself to be a firm atheist. I had my doubts about my religion and gods and after I read The Illiad, which describes gods much similar to Hinduism, my thought process was complete and since then I had never any reason to look back. My atheism only grew stronger as the time passed.
Hindu religion, Hindu philosophy and Hindu gods, all have weaknesses like those of other religions. The Hindu philosophy, although entirely based on imagination, is brilliant. I understood that it had a purpose. The real Hindu life appeared to be not entirely guided by religious philosophy. It was not harsh. At least I was never affected by any harshness. That is why I have no hate for religion or gods. Everything related to god and religion is created by human beings, good or bad, as they wanted, and they could not have done it as we think it right today. I am, as all others are, free to think and act as we feel right and that is why we are all atheists. We have no reason to grumble or whimper. We have to move on.
The people around me accepted my atheism without any opposition. I think this also partly has to do something with my no-nonsense personality. I am invited for religious functions as per our custom. Occasionally, I do accept such invitation. I do not participate in any ritual, but I do fold my hands before an idol, so as not to offend the sensibilities of my people. I and everybody else knows about my beliefs and so this act does not hurt my atheism. This has been going for a long time now.
Everybody may not have experienced such smooth going. I have come to know about several cases of rejection faced by atheists. This is acceptable within certain limits. Parents should not disown children for having different beliefs. Society cannot harass a person for having thought differently from the rest of the majority. When I read about such cases, I feel that those who suffer in this manner need our help. I think we have an obligation towards them.