Monday, March 29, 2010
Give Me Your Poor, Downtrodden (M)Asses
The Kumbh can be an entirely moving experience, it can be one of communion, reconnecting with one's spiritual self, of finding solace in truths higher than our mundane routines can offer us.
As you can imagine then, it attracts its fair share of looneys.
Case in point: the man in the above photographed billboards.
This person is a crusader. He is here to save every downtrodden, stamped, stomped and spat upon upper caste Hindu that ever walked the earth. You may be familiar with this long-suffering demographic. They've seen so much prejudice, suffered so much at the hands of those evil minorities, they've been screwed over so often by the communal and caste-driven democratic process of this nation....
...that now they - led by aforementioned crazy sadhu - want theirs back.
He's erected massive billboards all along the National Highway 45 from Roorkee to Haridwar. Each one follows the same template of panic and branches off into individual whiny messages fueling hatred:
The Hindu religion is in PERIL!!!! (because)....Hindus don't have equal opportunities in educational institutes/ job markets, they aren't schooled in their religion from an early age, they don't have financial advantages over other minorities, they're being corrupted by the evil forces of secularism and of course, they are the only victims of terrorism.
Now, I've done this trip 4 times in the last 2 months and these billboards are beginning to have an effect on me. As a persecuted Hindu myself, I feel the pain this man is talking about. I think back to all those times when I was politely denied a job the minute people heard my last name, or when people refused to hand me the bill in a restaurant every time I was accompanied by a male Hindu. I have cried silent tears on being denied my graduate degree at the end of three years in Delhi University just because I did not appear for my English subsidiary exam. And when I visited the Levis store 24 hours after their sale had ended, management refused to extend it JUST because of my religion.
So, as I drove into Haridwar this time, I gave serious thought to joining this dude's cult. I took out a pen and paper to note down details of his website/address/crazycult name. I was all ready to take up the saffron robes. Then I saw crazy sadhu's name:
I knew then & there that I couldn't enlist. Because this broke the one cardinal rule of cult-joining that I live by:
'If you can't spell it, pronounce it or even recall it - you can't join it'
So close I was.