Sunday, January 14, 2007

Ties that bind

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!


Random said...

doh…mirage’s social angst on show after a long time! unfortunately no one can ever give an answer to why we hate. we just do, and are bloody good at doing it. perhaps the only thing that can soothe is to ensure that you, and those around you, don’t ever get addicted to the disease of hatred.

Rohit Talwar said...

Nice post, I say. Welcome change after love-shove :P

I agree. The day people stop yelling about these dumb reservations and'd change a LOT. I wish these things go down the drain soon. Why can't everyone just be their usual self just the way they're with their 'community' people?

Mai said...

Please, I'd like to quote a real idiot who once asked a very wise question:

Rodney King of Los Angeles asked:

"Can't we all just get along?"

The price of not getting along is so high and so painful. Our differences are so small. What is the matter with us? When will we realise that we all belong to the same sprcies? In my midfifties, I no more have the answers than I did in my teens when I first asked these things. Maybe we all really are morons.

Loved your post. Thanks. Mai

desperado said...

interesting post...
but i believe we are chaging as a younger less prevalent in our minds while interacting as to which caste the other person belongs too...but yeah till thigs like reservations on caste lines remians..we would always be reminded of that...its only because i think we as young people are no wher in the decision making soon as we get involved this thing may change

good post

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, I do agree with previous posters, that things are now changing. The youth in India and abroad are more tolerant now.
I am a Sikh and being brought up and living in Canada I see mush tolerance and have friends that are from different parts and religions of India as well as from other parts of Asia such as China and Hong Kong and many Caucasian friends too – no matter what our parents or other think or do we are judged in this life for what we do ourselves and we can make a difference.

Also inter-faith marriages are very common these days, they may be less accepted in India but most countries such as Canada and the United States, immigrant families are now starting to accept them – as families don’t have a choice. Also as the west adopts religious such as Sikhism, attitudes and cultures adapt and adjust as they should.

Lastly, just a quick note you said that a Sikh has to wear the 5 symbols or they are unfit - is not true at all. All Sikhs should be baptized they can choose to be or not - if they are baptized then those 5 symbols they must wear. Baptizement in Sikhism is a higher level of calling, some are ready early on in life some later after they retire, and others never are in this life, again it’s a choice for each and everyone, husbands can choose different paths from the wives, children from their siblings and parents – the only other way of explaining it is its like a calling.

Also Sikhs are a very understanding race of people, it was after all Guru Nanak that told them to set aside caste’s and gave full equality to women over 500 years ago. But nowadays on my last visit to India, I know that most have forgotten this and even in Canada as soon as a new Indian family arrives caste and which village you are from is the first thing they ask to everyone they meet. Thankfully after 6 months to a year or so – village and caste is not important, one of the other reasons for this now is the workplace. When you start working with someone from a different race or caste you have no choice and after a while see them for who they are and not the color or race, but in countries like India this option is only available in the bigger cities.

Mirage said...

@rash: i wish it was so easy to refrain from it... but nonetheless, i accept ur condolences :D

@rohit: exactly! Can never understand the human mind... sighh!

@Mai: Well said...moron is the word! :) Thanks for visiting!

@Dhruv: Yea, but we as young people are also influenced by our elders and many a times, fall into the 'trap of tradition'.

@Anon: Thanks for ur appreciation. I agree inter-faith marriages are increasing abroad but i spoke in relation to India. And of course I know Sikhs are extremely warm people. My best friend is Sikh and i really love her for what she is, not who she is. Its not the people I condemn, its their beliefs. Thanks so much for dropping by. Wud love to visit ur page sometime... :)

anuj said...

damn !! i left a comments .. whrs it gone :(

anuj said...

:(((((( ( my comment )

newyz .. i read some last posts as well .. nd wud jst say .. tht keep it a lil kooool .. nd give it some time, as u really want it nd thts d best thing u wud evr want to happen to ur life .. plzz .. dnt miss it jst being a lil impatient (experience speaks .. hehe )

so jst relax .. nd calm dwn .. have patience .. god is gr8 nd he will give u directions n u(Guyz) will find ur way to ur dream home ;)


Sushma said...

Beautiful! You've probably voiced many others' opinions too...something that many fear to come up with, again, probably for fear of communal fights.
Happened to stumble across your blog, this being the very first post I got to read...must say, I'm impressed. Great job!
However, in my opinion, things of such sort have gone too far, one probably can't imagine. Something that was previously done to imbibe in a person some culture, has today been exploited..and the by-product we get is such discriminations. We feel sorry about it, and probably not practice it too, but, does it seem to help anyways?
Again, great job! Keep up the good work.

Rohit Talwar said...

Don't you wanna blog about something that happened recently? :P

Or I'll break that news here!!! :D :D :D

Smartalec said...

Really nice post... and I found it all the more interesting since I watched Parzania yesterday! And someone said India is famous for her unity in diversity! Hah! What a farce!
By the way, my mom is from a pakka Tamil Brahmin background and boy o boy! Was a ruckus raised or what when she married my dad, a Roman Catholic, defying all odds! Well times surely are changing and our generation seems to have a broader outlook! Let's hope it remains that way! Amen!
To hell with caste, creed, race, etc... as for religion, it should just be there for people to have something to believe in, not for creating differences!
And how come no posts for a long while?! I know you'll say "Look who's talking" but... :)