I am just sick, and tired, of noise explosions in India, in the name of religion.
India is a country where a religion goes to become a manic masquerade. Nothing has ever been or will ever be silent, or even remotely peaceful in India. The mere worth of an event is based on how much noise it has made. Really, it is as if nothing is significant until it has been shouted about from the tops of roofs by enough people, for enough days. When did faith and belief become a mass show, I can not understand, but clearly it is the norm in Indian ‘devotion’. I can continue to question the values of such a faith in the first place, but I’ll refrain from that simply because I can’t find the strength. This is a country that is basically run on religion: it will be like arguing public policy with a mob that has decided that it’s laws are given to it from ‘above’. I may also not be the most unbiased commentator, since I have received nothing but hatred from religion.
Once, irritated by the cacophonous blaring of prayers (conveniently tuned to the beats of contemporary film songs) on a microphone plugged to a loudspeaker turned up, at eight in the morning, I turned to my mother and asked- “Why MICS! Why the hell does it have to be on mics!” She, laughing, attempted to unravel the mystery: “Perhaps in the hopes that their sincerest prayers will fall on the ears of those criminals that are atheists (and possibly those of other religions) and bring them divine intervention, to make them see a god. Their god. Perhaps their god will bless us heretical fools, perhaps they believe they’re doing a noble thing for us ignorant people. It’s either that or they truly believe they need mics to amplify the sounds up till heaven.”
I wondered about this comment for a while that day, wondered whether one could really be an atheist in India. One could, but then one would be really really unsafe. If you ever want to imagine what an atheist’s life in India would be like, don’t. We have enough pain already.
This particular belligerent blogpost has sprung from an incident from thirty minutes ago. Today is Gurupurab; the birthday of the first leader of the Sikhs; A leader remembered for the passion with which he sought peace and coexistence of all. A leader who, as Wikipedia briefly puts it, set up a unique spiritual, social, and political platform based on equality, fraternal love, goodness, and virtue. He was a landmark in thought. He sought to settle society down, peacefully.
Surely, his birthday, a gazetted holiday, should be a day when one can reflect calmly on all that he taught.
But that obviously didn’t happen. A truck mounted with four loudspeakers came crawling around the roads of the neighborhood, expelling song after song by singer after singer addressing their love/reverence/fidelity to the Almighty. The truck stopped under my balcony.
I was caught unaware. I had been working the morning off, completing some very intelligent writing assignments, when suddenly my head exploded. The bed under me became an earthquake, rather a thousand panels of wood fighting to separate. My ears closed. The firecrackers began. And what firecrackers, that let out no wondrous lights, just mini explosions that stilled the world for two seconds each time, and made pressure tunnels of ears. I could get my body to coordinate long enough to migrate to another room, and shut all the doors. But those explosions continued to rock the house, as if it was coming from the earth and nothing could escape it, as if nothing had the right to. Perhaps because they were explosions for the Almighty. Growing up in such a culture has indeed prepared me to deal with such days, but today it was as if I was not supposed to escape. Today, the heretical fool was brought to justice. There was a celebration going on outside and I was forcibly made a part of it, even if it tortured my brain. I do not exaggerate when I say that if it hadn’t stopped, I would have come out a severely changed person.
It is over now. The four loudspeakers are killed, one mic continues to din in the distance. The silence is incongruous. Now I can understand what happened, I couldn’t then. It was just another communal riot: A violence with sounds. Everything they did, everything that religion apparently demanded them to do, made my brain become a block of lead sitting on top of my body, pressing down.
And that is why I have to write this post.
Today, I am pleading the masses to remember our one great silence; remember the freedom struggle, remember the simple marches, remember non-violence. Remember that greatness can, and has already been achieved in our country once, with no use of a racket. Remember that the racket was the enemy that our greatness fought against! Remember, that our Father showed the world that India held strength, not in war and madness, but in control. Remember that our leaders showed our oppressors that the clamor of their soldiers was nothing compared to the integrity of our people.
Silence is one of the best things the freedom struggle has taught us. Why are we forgetting it today.