Blind faith is dangerous and these days more so with rising trust of people in Facebook . The sharing of posts without waiting to think about its motives or authenticity is a disease that’s spreading fast. It’s sad to see posts deriding religious festivals and practices circulate around every Hindu festival and many feel its cool to share them without knowing the facts. It almost seems as if there is a small but consistently growing attack that’s aimed to weaken the foundation of Sanatan dharma in society. Since we are a largely non-congregating religion, and the so called “modern liberals” among us themselves are more than eager to trash religion, it is very easy for this trend to catch-on. Let me just share a few incidents.
Donations- An image of the goddess adorned with jewels instigated scathing remarks from people. From “where does the money come from” to “why it’s not put to use for poor people”. Will anyone ever question source of donations and the accountability of institutions (mainly foreign funded-where money is often used to buy guns and in some cases even alcohol & cigarettes to proselytize)? Besides this is how a goddess is worshipped and the donation is being utilized correctly..Is religious freedom and freedom of expression only a prerogative of a few? Unknown to most, many temples and religiously motivated individuals feed thousands of people everyday, that’s how the donations are used. It’s just that they believe in working instead of tom-toming about their philanthropic acts. Also, the same folks who are deriding such religious acts have no qualms about ostentatious displays in their own and their friend’s homes, wining and dining in posh restaurants and consuming expensive and imported products.
Accusing people following customs of being regressive- Karwachauth being the latest victim of “feminists” accusing it to be another custom that exemplifies patriarchy and female subordination. Sorry to disappoint “secular-liberal-modern” friends, but it’s not. It’s something I willingly do and unknown to naysayers there are many husbands who fast along with their wives. Apart from the religious value, many couples consider it to be a fun and pious way to reinstate their love for each other. If Karwachauth is regressive then what about Valentine’s day and many other such occasions? Why do couples need a particular day to show their love to each other and isn’t that day all about consumerism and merchandising. I have horrifying memories of being chased and pursued on valentine’s day by besotted idiots and am sure many others have been victimized too. But any opposition to these customs will immediately be attacked by these same people. How I choose to express my love is upto me and if choose Karwachauth isn’t that “my Choice” (or is the expression reserved for women choosing to wear revealing clothes, smoke, consume alcohol and have free sex?).
Around Navratra there was a picture of a 4 yr old girl circulated on fb, the message suggested why people fast when girls are being raped. Rape is a crime in each and every religion, it’s heinous and barbaric. But why associate that with navratra and try to deliberately undermine its sanctity. Please put your points across by associating it with something more pertinent.In ancient India there was no difference in the status of men and women, if there was, it was the status of women that was much higher. Navratra is a celebration of the exalted status of women in sanatan dharma. It reinforces the presence of kali/Durga in each and every woman and if they could slay demons single handedly so can any one of us!
Ganesha idols, polluting rivers. Most pandals and even the Ganesha idols installed at home these days are made from organic material and are also being disposed in an environmentally safe way. So please stop crying foul over idols every season. As far as pollution goes, India is much lower in per capita pollution than most of the industrialized world. But the issue is our very large and growing population. When someone points out at who or which communities are responsible for this increase in population, it is called right wing propaganda. The more we eat plant based food, the better it is for the environment (animals raised for meat in turn consume heavy amounts of plant based food increasing the stress on the environment and carbon footprint) but look how people opposed the notion of beef or meat ban.
Crackers during Diwali- Diwali’s still a fortnight away but the posts circulation have begun- How about not bursting crackers everytime India wins a cricket match (some people within India burst crackers when some other country wins but that is a topic for another day) or at those lavish weddings? While I am no fan of noisy and heavy duty crackers myself, there are many occasions when other religions and religious festivals are also celebrated by practices unpalatable to others, but we do not comment on them in such a way. Instead we respect their customs and turn 100% tolerant in our full secular splendor and even celebrate some of them. So one wonders, why all the negative attention showered only during a Hindu festival? And if Modi asks people to spend less on crackers this Diwali and give up your gas subsidy, people will find all kinds of logic to trash that too (the usual favorites are “why don’t MPs give up subsidy and pension”, the general tone being “why doesn’t someone else do something first”).