This might come across as a rather strong post. I would like to inform my readers that the following are simply my thoughts and I do not intend to hurt any person or community with this post. So if somebody does feel offended, I apologize in advance.
Religion. One word I dislike from the very core of my heart. What was meant to bring people together has been the key aspect in bisecting them. What was meant to be an expression of freedom, has enclosed us within its framework of “rules and regulations”.
India is an amalgamation of scores of religions and communities. There’s the Muslim community, the Christians, the Parsis and the Hindus. The Hindu community itself is divided into a number of other communities, each following their respective religious convictions. Diversity. Something we, as a nation, were once proud of. But its driven us so far apart from each other, that we cringe at the thought of any sort of union within two different sections of society.
I wanted to talk about how the ‘outside’ communities operate. But then I thought of our very own Hindu religion. Take my own, for instance. I’m a Punjabi, closely related to the Sikh community. We all know what Sikhs are ‘supposed’ to do. Both men and women aren’t allowed to cut their hair. They’re all supposed to carry 5 things with them at all times (kada, kanghi, kataar, kesh and kachh) or else they’ll be declared ‘unfit to be a part of Sikhs’. They have to marry within their community, though now-days some families are relenting.
The Bengalis. Caste is given top priority here. People are excluded from the right to enter a temple just because they don’t belong to certain caste. You are not allowed to touch or eat in someone else’s house if they are not part of your caste or you’d become an ‘untouchable’ yourself.
Tamils. Again ruled by the caste system. Tamil Brahmins have the monopoly on God and they are the only ones who have the legitimacy to "speak" God-tongue: Sanskrit. They are given the highest regard in society. Strictly vegetarian, they have to wear a thread on their bodies at all times to prove their ‘brahminness’. And of course they’re adherence to time is a known fact. Everything has to be done at a certain time or else it loses its purpose. And marry outside the caste (leave alone community), all hell breaks loose.
I have a great problem with the caste system especially when those who practice it do not even do the job that caste is supposed to do. Segregation and untouchability are beyond the pale in modern society. Even the delineation based on job classification is stupid in a modern societal context.
There are also the perceptions we have formed about persons belonging to a specific community. We see a Sikh and pass him off as a moron. A Muslim has to be a sadist. A Bengali is considered a glutton. A Tamilian- dark skinned race. A Marwarhi has to be a ‘business-minded’ trader.
Why? Why this disparity? Why this hesitation to accept people as they are, whoever they are? We have breeding records for animals. Why brand one another? Why can’t we be human first, and communal later?
An anonymous Tamil poem says it all. The girl thinks her lover might forsake her and go away without marrying her. The boy then allays her fears. He says:
My mother and your mother, how are they related!
My father and your father, in what way are they related!
Me and you, did not know each other before!
Like the rain that mixes with the red soil,
Our hearts full of love have got mixed with one another!