Showing posts with label Shab-e-Baraat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shab-e-Baraat. Show all posts

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Rowdiness robs religious festivals of sobriety but politicians are indifferent, writes Chandan Mitra

Indians are overly exhibitionist in matters of faith. Many of us appear to believe that unless our respective religions and rituals associated with them are volubly demonstrated in public, we have somehow failed in performing our religious duty. Even festivals, which have no religious ceremony associated, such as Holi and Diwali are observed boisterously through the splashing of colours and bursting crackers at a deafening volume. Similarly Shia Muslims observe Muharram through self-flagellating processions and carrying Tazias down the street. But since loud music is not an integral part of these observances the public disturbance is limited.

But in the last few decades, kanwars have broken all traditions converting their yatras to and from Haridwar or Garh Ganga (Braj Ghat) into raucous events, travelling in trucks blaring loud music through massive loudspeakers, mainly Hindi film songs of dubious quality. Their behaviour on the roads is anything but devotional. They carry hockey sticks and baseball bats to intimidate and seriously injure other road users, state governments, not necessarily of BJP persuasion, make concerted efforts to facilitate their journey, even closing down the main highways on their route or erecting scaffolding barriers to protect the rowdy pilgrims who are known to turn violent if faced with any obstacle. The month of Shravan (July-August) is viewed with trepidation by most other travellers on north India’s roads. Cities like Delhi and Gurugram too are significantly affected.

Should observance of religiosity be such a demonstrative public affair, especially if it inconveniences others? Most religious teachers tell us that religion is a private affair and should definitely not impinge on others’ beliefs. But the kanwar revellers have no patience for such pious thoughts. Incidentally, even Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, a man deeply seeped in religion, had warned kanwars this year not to be unruly or play film songs which border on the vulgar. But the fear of violence seems to petrify the police who continue to treat these self-styled devotees with kid gloves.


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