I am an Indian. I may sound weird to some. I may sound emotional, a bit patriotic and of course religious too. When am Indian, I am asked many questions by the society and its people- Am I a Hindu, Muslim, Judaist or a Christian?
And this is not new to me, coz I am being grown up with such questions, whenever, wherever I go. I may also be asked if I’m a Brahmin, Rajput, Marwaadi, Gujarati, Kashmiri (pundit), a migrant, Shia, Sunni, Ahmedia or Quranist, Jat, Khatri, Mazhabis or Ramdasias.
These questions are not new for me as I am practiced to answer my religion, my caste, my Gotra, my ancestors’ history, everything, which has been taught to me, since childhood. I have also been taught about my culture, those ethics or etiquettes that I need to follow, throughout my life. What my biradari is and how should I response or behave to it.
These questions are not a trouble for me as I said- I have been taught to give answers to them and I have carried them so well since many years. But my real trouble starts when I belong to a minority group and then these questions become havoc for me. I am not sure if I should completely tell about myself or should give only limited information about my background, my culture and about my ancestors. I do not know who this person who is asking about me is. If he is a member of the other rivalry group? Is he a hypocrite or a puritan? Whoever am I, when I am a part of a minority religious group, I am insecure.
And then I hesitate to answer those questions that should be prideful to discuss within my community. Why I always need to explain about my identity, and are always obnoxious in front of the good amount of any community?
Why my identity is always objectionable? Why it is always being fused with emotions, ethics, religion and political vogues around me? Is this my fault if my ancestors failed to survive to the native country and had to shift here after the partition? Is this my fault if my people burnt your train and killed thousands of pilgrims? Why am I always being raped by the other religious group out of rage and anger, whenever there is any #communal riot? Why I am enslaved or butchered? Why I am being burnt in every riot when my God has allowed me to get buried after my death? Why my identity at Kashmir is still doubtful, whether I should be called a Hindustani or a Pakistani? To whom should I believe- A Hindustani soldier or a Pakistani militant/soldier? Why even outside India, if I am wearing a turban – I’m being called a terrorist? Why even at school I am an object of their mockery, just because I do not belong to their group/community?
Whenever we think about India- we think about the religion, the caste and the culture of the country. Undoubtedly, this nation has got so many diversities at different states and we have been taught to be proud of our diversified country. Thanks to those migrant traders in the Indian History, the influences of which made this nation, the motley of different religions, cultures and festivals.And today the role of carrying the ethics, history and religions of India is being politically and selfishly abide by those responsible and sincere politicians, “sincerely” thinking about the future of a “#Secular India”. Where one way, the “Ban on Beef” (should be or should not be) is the major topic of discussion today, and on the other hand, the Hanuman Jayanti Shobha Yatra is being attacked by the miscreants of a particular community on Saturday. So the roles of these politicians and Religious Bureau like Saints, Imam and Popes have always become great nuisances to create public disasters and controversies.
They have a free will and power to play with the religious norms but let me focus on one concept:-
This is so interesting to learn the fact that every month, our nation celebrates different festivals from different religions and cultures, and we must agree that throughout the year, we have got so many reasons to rejoice and celebrate in the form of festivals.
On Thursday, April 2, we celebrated Mahavir Jayanti, the birth of Lord Mahavira, Friday was being celebrated as Good Friday, followed by Easter today (Sunday) and on Saturday people again celebrated Hanuman Jayanti, the birth of Lord Hanuman. These holy festivals were being celebrated by different religions and different people at different places in India. But the festive mood can be felt and observed in everyone.
This is only a coincidence that many festivals in India are being celebrated around the same day of the festivals of other communities. Like, if Hindus are celebrating Dusshera (last year, October 04, 2014), the day is being followed or preceded by Bakrid (last year, October 03 2014) – a holy festival of Muslims. If Muslims are celebrating Muharram (October24, last year), even Hindus have Deepavali (October 23, last year) around their festival. So, even Gods do not have any objection if they are being worshipped together, whether in a temple, in a mosque or inside a church, at the same time, in the same muhurat or on the same holy day (holiday).
But we are here to decide, where our festivals should be celebrated. Which place is mine, which one is yours? This temple is for Hindu, Muslims are not allowed here; this area is for Muslims and Hindus are prohibited. Why cannot I go and worship your God, the way I want? Why I am not permitted to enter into a Masjid to pray your Allah- if I am a non-Muslim? Why religion is such a sensitive issue that mere an objectionable word can make you the enemy of the whole community and you are being severely punished or being heavily cursed for your sins?
Why the movies based on religions or the scenes used in it, if affecting the religious sentiments of the people are being banned, protested or criticized too much? The movie PK was being badly criticized by the public as the actor is a Muslim and getting vexed or doubting the existence of God; especially the Hindu Gods. A Hindu is attacking yet another Hindu when one is a Kashmiri Pandit (including Anupam Kher) and the other is the maker of #Haider– Vishal Bhardwaj. Vishal Bhardwaj and his movie was being clinically attacked by the people especially the Kashmiri Pandits by showing a bad effigy of Indian Army and the Dance of Devil was additional curse for him to be shot in the Hindu’s Surya Temple in Kashmir. Hindus were completely against it as the evil dance was performed inside the temple wearing boots and he was further blamed for having pseudo-secular or genocidal thoughts against Kashmiri Pundits. But being a Hindu, even Vishal Bhardwaj knows that his religion does not allow him to wear boots inside a temple. So did he somehow manage to convince the priests of the Surya Temple to enter with boots or did he just use the background of the temple, but not the actual temple? And if talking about the Dance of the Devil, which was being performed by a Muslim character in the movie by a Hindu, in a Hindu temple (ironically); did those protestors forget that even their God (Lord Shiva) used to do Taandav- when he is angry or against any wicked incidence to stop the evil act/person?
If you remember, the Demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the related repercussions of the incidence since many decades and taking political U-turns inflicting people’s sentiments. Do you know the moment the mosque was being destructed; people (Muslims) somewhere outside India completely retaliated and revenged it by destructing the most ancient temple of Hindus, dedicated to Lord Narasimha. This ancient temple in Multan in Pakistan is called Prahladpuri Temple, named after Prahlad and we lost one and only ancient Hindu temple in (Multan) Pakistan.
Few days ago, I changed my #WhatsApp Profile Photo with an image of Lord Jesus. People started asking me (mockingly) if I have changed my religion and if they should start calling me “Anny”. Even people who are changing their religion or getting converted are being considered as naïve, immoral or crooked. The terms like Love-Jehad and Ghar Wapsi are the reverberation of such ill-concepts regarding the minor group or the other religions.
Thence, living in India makes me feel like sometimes I am watching Jehad against Hinduism, sometimes against Islam but actually I can see jehad against myself and my identity. I am sometimes a topic of discussion, sometimes a controversy. Sometimes secular, sometime republican, I am the clear niche among the riots, sometimes blameable, sometimes palpable. But I am the one who finds the same faith in my God like you do for your God. Even I have my pilgrimage centres and worshipping places like you have. Even I pray, I fast and I celebrate my festival like you do. So why being a minor, is a taboo?
I strongly deny my religion. I refuse to speak my name or my language that reflects my culture. I refuse to wear the clothes that belongs to my community. I am also a part of that history, this present and the future. I am also a part of this country. I am not, what you think I am; but I am what you are. I am also a human, like you are.