Tuesday, October 18, 2005

In the name of GOD

This festival season has been a little quieter than ever. Though Diwali is just round the corner, there is strong reason to believe that too, will be a quieter experience. Thanks to the Supreme Court, people can live peacefully during the Ganpati Immersion, Dassera and hopefully, Diwali.

On the day of Dassera, I had a different kind of experience. I was on my way to the Hospital, to see one of my friends admitted there. I stay at Vasai, a small township north to Mumbai. The hospital was around 15 Minutes distance from my place and the Visiting time ends by 7:30 PM. So I caught this Rickshaw by 7:00 PM so that I can be there well before the visiting time ends. Since Vasai is a small city and in the last 10 years, the population has more than doubled, the roads are not wide and well maintained. As a result, in the evenings, the roads resemble a busy Mumbai intersection. Chock-a-block traffic and blaring horns, dust and oppressive heat. I ventured out on such an evening.

The Journey took me 1 hour 20 minutes exactly. Reason? A small procession of Devi devotees was dancing their way to the immersion place. The motley group has around 30-35 people, including children and women. The road block was extended up to Ambadi Naka, from Stella, a distance of 1.2 KM! This is the arterial road leading to Vasai Gaon and they have blocked the road completely! Only a couple of meters space was available for a 4 lane traffic! I was made to sit in that dingy Rickshaw inhaling the exhaust fumes from the vehicles that were furiously racing their engines as if to speed up the procession. But they were taking their own sweet time. At last, after 1 Hour and 20 Minutes, we reached the front and I finally the hospital by 8:30.

Imagine a situation where a fatally wounded or heart failed patient on his way to hospital? Or a woman in labor pain? Haven’t these guys thought about it? How they, in the name of religion, can do this to the society? The police were seen busily controlling the traffic but what can they do when the road is totally blocked? They should have controlled the mob from the beginning and made them move through the side. But in India, anything can be done in the name of religion. A few months back, there was a court order banning all Bhajans and Poojas in Local Trains. But those who do this still continue it unabated. But check the background of the verdict. When a Muslim organization declared that, they too, will start their ghazals and reading of Koran in local trains; someone went ahead and filed a PIL and the subsequent verdict.

Has India become a judicial state? Don’t we have an effective low and order system? Or has it completely collapsed and the common man has to approach the court every time his fundamental rights are denied? True, India is a secular country and everyone has the right to worship his choice of god, but not at the expense of someone else’ fundamental right.

Can’t they do this kind of public processions at mid-night when traffic is light? Or can’t they select some less-traveled roads? We have to consider about others before we embark on something like that. What was that the got from all these? They pleased the god? As a society we cease to know what others feel. We have become a selfish lot. God Help us.


Sirensongs: Indologist At Large said...

It never cease to amaze and amuse me, Indians complaining about this type of thing. Reminiscent of Delhi residents complaining that cows cause traffic accidents (cows cause no accidents, it is the speeding vehicles which do not belong there. The cows have been around far longer and with the grace of god will continue to be). Cows in the road and religious processions, as well as one's being constantly inconvenienced, are intrinsic parts of Indian culture. If someone were on their way to hospital in an emergency they should be in an ambulance with siren.

I agree they could choose less-traveled roads. But then, so could the vehicle on the way to hospital. And midnight?!? In a nation where most people arise at 4am, midnight would be an insane time for a procession. Additionally, you know that midnight is an inauspicious time traditionally for most religious proceedings.

I enjoy the fact that your blog looks into the bright as well as dark side of the country. Keep writing!

Upasana in Kathmandu, formerly of Pune

Shinu Mathew said...

It is not that the Indians are complaining just for the sake of it. We are a modern society now. As with every modern society we need to think in terms of human convinience. True, cows has been a part of our civilisation for centuries, and GOD WILLING it will be for coming ceturies too. But when you have to choose between your life and a Cow what it would be?
Next thing, Had it been in an ambulance with siren, how would you expect to go ahead on a road packed with AutoRikshaws, Cars and buses. Flying? There was no way even a cyclist could move on.
I am not against any religion or custom. Infact we need to preserve our culture and religious things at a time when human race is facing a major dillemma regarding their very existence and more & more people finding solace in religion. But nothing should come into the way of our secular image. Here Hindus, parsis, muslim and Christians live in harmony. Or more precisely, tolerate each other :). Everyone should understand other people's feeling and convinience.

Sirensongs: Indologist At Large said...

<<< is not that the Indians are complaining just for the sake of it. We are a modern society now. As with every modern society we need to think in terms of human convinience>>>
That is exactly the problem - that modern societies "think in terms of human convenience." This is what has ruined the west and turned it into a souless giant car park. Ambulances can travel swiftly down American highways because we have created an entire society based on "convenience" - however there are no more pedestrians; we are too afraid of the speeding cars! And just try having a religious procession - nearly impossible!

When India begins to put human convenience before the sacred cow's right to wander everywhere, it will be India no more and completely lose its identity. You speak about preserving culture at the same time advocating things that will destroy it. The idea of "human convenience" is not an Indian one and belongs elsewhere. (just ask the people at the Indian Embassy, on my blog today.)

I don't see the connection between this subject and the very excellent point about tolerance, and religious harmony. I agree that India is unique in honouring all religions and want to see that continue. I enjoy your page, keep up the good work.

Sirensongs: Indologist At Large said...

Endakayenda vishesham? By the way I lived one year in Keralam and loved it. Ennike keralam valaray isthamanu (sorry about spelling).

Shinu Mathew said...

Vishesham Onnum Illa. Btw you know Mata Amritandamayi? Such a wonderful personality. Did you hear about the bungled attack on her?
commnets-ne Valare nandi. Iniyum kaananam.