Religion and its Aftermath

Picture Courtesy: http://www.crystalxp.net/galerie/en.id.3470-religion-wallpaper-gruzz-wallpapers.htm

When I was at school, probably in the 7th standard, applying for public examination hall tickets was a big deal! Applicants’ information had to be precise….’cuz if we screwed it up…the repercussions were endless visits to the board of secondary school offices. Most of my teachers always made sure that I got my name right, every year a new teacher… weird isn’t it? Now, why would I get my name wrong? But my teachers were a little skeptical basically because I had a Hindu first name and a Muslim surname…since my mother is a Hindu and my father a Muslim. Most teachers did not even know if such a name existed…what it meant.  But, never before in my life did I feel like I was different to others…like I was not normal…probably a little ashamed as well…especially when it came to filling the section which asked which religion I belonged to…do I tick Hinduism or Islam? I used to hate that part and still do. My friends never had any such problems and I did not want to ask my teachers for advise or suggestions since it meant telling them my life story which in turn gave me unduly attention.

My parents never brought me up a ‘certain way’. They are not religious people and I grew up speaking Telugu (my mother tongue), applied bindi and went to Temples occasionally with friends. My mother remained a Hindu; she wore her Mangalsutra and bindis too. So my brother and I basically were ‘non-religious’. My father rarely goes to the mosque and most people get a shock of their lives when they come to know he is a Muslim. He is a Hyderabadi but speaks fluent Telugu and that confuses people a lot.

If once I was a little embarrassed that I did not have a sense of belonging towards any religion, I have grown up to be a person proud of my heritage. My aversion with religion started with the demolition of Babri Masjid and the riots that followed. We were living in Hyderabad then and I cannot forget the sense of fear in me. Scared to go out and buy food, wondering if anyone would come home and hurt my family…wondering if my mom could be hurt if Muslims came home or if my dad could get hurt if Hindus came home. There was curfew in the city and the tension was high. A local cable TV network continuously broadcasted images of the demolition of the masjid along with Shri Ram’s Devotional songs. The tension was high. My father rushed to the cable TV network’s office and asked him not to show scenes that could easily instigate people. But the operator was adamant and continued to show the pictures. My father did not have any other option but to confiscate his equipment and bring it home. That night remains one of my scariest nights’ till date. I was sure that some religious fanatics would come home and definitely hurt my dad….but it went without any incident. My father’s relatives who live in the ‘Old City’ of Hyderabad had some horrific tales of violence to share with us…which only scared me even more.

The riots ended gradually and life came back to normal. Since then, I never found it important to associate myself with any religion.  But for some it is very important and I never really understood why. Why would someone want to associate themselves to something that is so violent, something that is only used to kill and increase distance between people.

I believe that my parents symbolize what India is all about. We are ‘supposed’ to be a secular country so when there are inter-religious marriages, it is an institution to look up to and not to be sneered at.

Some tell me that religion is a way of life, a discipline….but these words do not have any value for me now. I have only seen people fighting, killing in the name of religion. Religion has only been used to hurt others and not unite people in love and peace. Probably, once upon a time, religion meant discipline, obedience but now it’s been diluted and used when and where possible to satisfy humans selfish needs. It is used only to divide and destroy people’s lives. I believe in God, but I am not ready to believe that different religions have different Gods and that if I pray to one God, the other God(s) will get angry. My God is Universal and I pray for peace everyday.

Advertisements

Why I am ANGRY!

Over the last 48 hours, I have been glued to my television set. I have never watched so much news before. When you are living abroad, everything is much more painful.

When I first heard of the news of indiscriminate firing at the Taj, I did not bother to keep track of the sequence of events since I though it could be a crazy gunman. I only realised how serious the issue was once S was home and checked the news again. What started off as random firing soon turned out to be a full-fledged terrorist attack on the city of Mumbai.

After the blasts in Delhi and Assam a few months ago, I knew such news could not affect me anymore. I think Indians are tragically used to listening such news and have unfortunately made them part of their everyday lives. But what unwrapped in Mumbai was phenomenal. You saw terrorists who were not scared to show their faces, who came well prepared, who had the ammunition and food to survive for days and the most scariest part was how old the terrorists looked…they seemed so young but yet so fearless…hell-bent on bringing terror to the city.

I was deeply saddened when I learnt that the top cops of Mumbai, Mr. Hemanth Karkare, Mr Salaskar and Mr Kamte had tragically succumbed to terrorist bullets. It is such a loss! The BJP and it’s allies like who stated that Mr. Karkare was anti-national for his revelations on the Malegaon blasts paid the ultimate price trying to save people like you and me.

There were some heroic tales of hotel staff both at the Taj and the Trident and also of the Army Men, Commandos, RAF and the Police who tried to help the guests whilst stuck at the hotel. Some of them sadly lost their lives and I hope their sacrifice won’t go in vain.

There are so many things I’d like to mention in this post…I feel like pouring my heart out…but it is just so difficult…hard to find the words. Mr. Krishna Kumar, VC of Taj group of hotels told us of how the GM of Taj Palace hotel helped rescue the guests only to find out later that his wife and two sons who were situated in one of the suites of the Taj were burnt alive. How can anyone come to terms with such loss. His grief is unimaginable. This is just one of the horrific tales that has come out of the crisis..there are many more.

I do not trust our politicians to resolve the crisis. Infact, I’ve never trusted them in anything. It is only the will power of the common man of India that has brought us to where we are economically but it is he/she that suffers the most.

But how do we move forward from here? What can we do as the citizens of India. There is alot of anger. There could be anger towards a certain community or towards our neighbour. Personally, the only way I could see a better future for India is by introducing out-reach programmes for certain communities who feel alienated. There are few questions our politicos and Intelligence bureau need to answer. How did so many terrorists enter India? Why are our borders so porous? How did the terrorists know where to attack? How did they know every inch of the Taj Palace Hotel? If 9 terrorists have so far been killed and one has been held alive….where are the remaining? Are they still freely going around the city?

There are so many questions…but no answers from the authorities. Obviously, the ‘Mumbaiker’ (and also the ‘Indian’) is tired of listening to cliched terms like ‘the spirit of mumbai’ and the ‘resilience of the city’. Please don’t take us for granted. We don’t deserve this.

And if the MNS chief Mr. Raj Thackeray does happen to read my blog…Can I just clarify, that I am not a Mumbaiker…I am a Hyderabadi…but I feel the pain of the city…and pray for the affected. So please do not try to regionalise us. Mother India is already bleeding…Mother India deserves respect. If you can contribute positively…please do…otherwise keep out!

Happy Ugadi

Here’s Wishing all my readers a Very Happy Ugadi 🙂

For those who are wondering what I am on about….here’s further information on Ugadi. Let’s pray for Love and Happiness to all 🙂

I visited the Venkateshwara Temple in Birmingham yesterday and how beautiful it was. I first visited the temple when it was no more than a couple of concrete buildings. It now looks like a proper temple, as if it were in India. I’d suggest everyone to visit it … even if you are not a religious person… simply because it’s peaceful and beautiful. The place makes you forget all wordly matters and lets you unwind.

Here’s just some shots I took yesterday

The Main Temple