By Radhika Vaz
April 25, 2017
By the grace of Goddess I do not believe in God. I was raised by Christians whose main interest in Christmas was cake. Religion was not part of my upbringing but being Air Force people we celebrated every festival known to man. My early years, aka my parents’ youth, was a whirlwind of parties and all that was needed to throw one was an excuse. These excuses were Diwali, Nowroze, Lohri, Christmas, Easter, Eid, and everything in between. It didn’t occur to me until high school that Muslims didn’t celebrate Christmas or that Parsis didn’t celebrate Diwali, or that Hindus didn’t celebrate Eid. My extended family was bonded by friendship, not by last name and definitely not by deity.
Today I live in Mumbai in a neighbourhood that is dotted with saris, Burqas and skirts – the Amar Akbar Anthony of fashion. Our street is a madhouse almost all year round because someone or the other wants to celebrate his God in his own special, littering, loudspeakered way and we all live with it. Sure there is some bitching and moaning but that’s OK, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t think we and our ways were better than yours. I for one look down from my atheist perch on everybody else.
But religion has an ability to do something rather subversive – it forces exclusion, it conditions you to hang out with, eat with, and mate with “your own kind” – thus producing more thoroughbred bigots. Don’t get your knickers in a twist – I know its #notallMuslims and #notallChristians and #notallSikhs, but here is the thing – all it takes is one. One guy who in the name of religion does something to the other guy and the next thing you know it’s open season aka rioting. India has lived through some awful times. We have killed in the name of mythological events, people and places and we think we will be rewarded for this in “heaven”. When really doing something for God is like doing something for your imaginary girl friend, you are only getting lucky in your own mind.
Maybe one day Sonu Nigam will get my wish – that all religions are celebrated differently, no public displays, no blocking the streets, and above all else no loud music of any kind. But wait, if they choose a Sonu Nigam song would that be OK? Maybe. Depends on who’s listening. And that is precisely the problem.
DISCLAIMER : This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.