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.

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And the Most Farcical Awards are…

Couple of days ago, I was browsing through the NDTV website when I came across something called the ‘GR8 Women’s Achievers  Awards’. These were new to me but apparently Kelvinator has given them for the last 2 years. I was browsing through the photos of the event to see who got the awards….some inspirational stories maybe?…stories of women who achieved something against all odds…who contributed positively to our society…?NO! But who do I end up seeing…Aishwarya Rai, Sushmita Sen, Bhagyashree (yup..the one from Maine Pyar Kiya), Diya Mirza (she’s every where these days), Yuktha Mookhey, Aarti Chabria, Zarine Khan etc in their beautiful sarees showing off their blouses and some in their skimpy clothes showing off their well-toned abs and yea..how can I forget….Shabana Azmi..she’s all things feminist isn’t she?

I was so disappointed…there was no one who I could admire, who actually contributed something to our society. Did Kelvinator conviniently ignore people like Dr. Sunitha Krishnan, the founder of Prajwala and many other women who are aplenty in our country? Do GR8 Women Achievers all have to be bollywood starlets? Dr Sunitha Krishnan, the founder of an NGO called Prajwala, who was gang raped at a young age fought back her horrors to become a psychiatrist and help children who are severely abused and sometimes sold and trafficked. Isn’t she inspirational to other women? Isn’t she deserving of this award?

What exactly have the bollywood startlets achieved may I ask? Most of them were models before they became actors or progeny of stars. They get paid crap load of money for their work…live in posh homes, drive extremely comfortable cars and dress in designer labels. For me, a GR8 Achiever is someone like Dr. Sunitha Krishnan…who is ACTUALLY doing something good for our society against all odds.

She is the only one I can think of now but this doesn’t mean there is no other woman in our country who is helping another. I am sure you will find one in every street corner. Such awards should carry some value…give it to people who really deserve them, to encourage them, to motivate them, to recognise their efforts and to show to the world what they do so that their organisations/NGO’s get the much-needed support. It doesn’t matter if you don’t give these awards to actors, they will still be fine…they won’t be missing out on anything. Who will it be next yr? Katrina, Kareena, Deepika etc?

Shame On You Kelvinator and the GR8 Women’s Achievers Awards panel!

Why Women?!

I wanted to update my blog with a couple of recipes…but since my head muddled up thinking about the recent event in Birmingham….I wanted to write the hell out about the psychological mess I am undergoing!

I was speaking with my mom when she told me more about the news…of how the guy after killing Jyothirmayee, self-inflicted injuries to avoid any doubts of his involvement in the murder. I was asking S why a girl would want a relationship with a psycho as himself in the first place. Probably she did not know he’d turn out to be like this. Not her fault. Now that she is gone…it is her family who have been punished for life. How can a human being be so selfish that he/she can think only about himself/herself and is ready to ruin anything that comes in his/her way?

Why didn’t God give the same strength to women to protect themselves as He/She gave to a man? Why is it that a woman is always molested or raped…? Why is it that a woman has to listen to vulgar talk while walking on the road inspite of wearing a shalwar kameez? Why is it that a woman is disfigured, tortured and sometimes killed if she doesn’t accept a man’s advances/demand for love or lust? Why is she tortured and murdered if she does not pay dowry to her husband and her family…..and the most sorrowful fate of all: she is killed even before she is born!

Be it Ayesha’s murder case which has now taken a political turn or the gruesome murder of a 10th class student Mendu Lakshmi who was all of 15 yrs old by her 19 year old neighbour all because she did not accept his advances, a woman undergoes pain that is unimaginable. If we dig history…thousands of such cases will come up…most of them still in courts after tens of years. In a country like India, where law is in the hands of the rich and powerful….middle-class families have to see generations of their off-spring perish before a verdict is reached!

My thoughts stop here….SHE IS THE BEARER OF ALL, YET SHE SUFFERS THE MOST!

Pic Courtesy: Cornell.edu