Society & Lifestyle
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Doing It Everyday 6
|by Meena Kandasamy|
State support for Hindutva: the Tamil Nadu example
If it was possible to replace Tamil loyalty by Hindu loyalty it was primarily because of the erosion of the ideology of the Dravidian movement. Political Hindutva may be the new face of Brahminism, but we don't have a Periyar here to point that out. Dravidianism too, is on the road of no-return, with documented instances of DMK and ADMK party workers accompanying the Vinayaka Chaturthi processions, adorning their respective idols with the party flags. Ideology now, is not even taking the backseat, it has been left behind to look after the home. Hindutva forces merely capitalize on this trend, and in the minds of the masses, replace the received rationalism with religion.
Not being content with reaching out to the people, the VHP attempted to mobilize the poojaris in Tamil Nadu. Even according to dated reports,
Gods are rich, and India is really the land of gold and diamonds, and all the riches that we have read of in the Arabian Nights. Courtesy, the bounty of our Tamil Kings a great section of the land is owned by temples (Few estimates suggest figures as high as 1/3rd the total land area of Tamil Nadu). In such a crucial, powerful lobby the consolidation by the Sangh Parivar has been complete.
In 1996, when the GKP attempted a massive show of strength with the participation of over 60,000 poojaris, the then Chief Minister Jayalalitha who attended the function accepted all the 9 demands of the GKP which included the provision of pension to retired poojaris.
Hindutva has been on the fast-track since the beginning of the AIADMK rule in 2001. As if in a fulfillment of holy vows, the state government resorts to a 'spiritual rule' and proudly pats itself for having renovated 2,822 temples. Retired poojaris enjoy pension, and if you are feeling hungry and there's a temple nearby, there are chances that you will benefit by the Annadhanam scheme that freely feeds Hindus at temples. The mutts are the political players here. Not that the DMK has been above board either. Cavorting with the Hindutva forces is the political pastime in Tamil Nadu.
This is a scary phenomenon. For all the systematic hard-work that the Sangh Parivar has put into Tamil Nadu, the state may soon be the next Gujarat.
What festivals could do in Maharashtra and Gujarat
We can observe that not only does this mass mobilization using religion serve political and fundamentalist agendas but it also serves a distractive purpose by keeping away people from other venues of collective action. Jayant Lele, comments that the 'control and dissipation of people's cognitive competence, its deflection away from the real sources of the malaise, is the task that communalism seems to have been commandeered to perform.' Often, new festivals have cropped up in order to displace people from their secular engagements. Instances when they have invented a religious function to displace a non-religious celebration galore. Thus we can understand the domestication of dissent and why marginalized, oppressed groups like the Dalits who are striving to revolt and be reborn in militant avatars are posited with new enemies.
Such an attribution of enemies, systematic brainwashing, economic buyouts and space for respectable identities ensured that Dalits could be used against Muslims in the Gujarat carnage. The very structure of religious festivals might also contribute to the increased militancy and riots that arise as by-products. The culture of public processions that accompany rituals has advanced to the extent that there is little left to imagination.
Gerard Heuze, in his seminal work on Populism, Religion and Nation in Contemporary India: The Evolution of Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, makes the following reflection:
He also notes how these mass pujas are capable of ensuring a kind of unity within the organization,
When Heuze speaks about pujas resembling civil wars, it might sound far-fetched to those who are not exposed to the reality. Tanika Sarkar documents of how even the war, the bloodbaths, resembled the pujas. She writes, 'Bystanders and survivors during the days of maximal violence were struck by the festive, carnivalesque aspect of rampaging mobs. Indeed, one such mob looked like a 'barat', a wedding band, to unsuspecting Muslims on the fateful morning of February 28.' The pujas alas don't end with the attainment of agendas, the harvest of death. They continue into the darkest of nights:
Even after the genocide, for the tempo to be maintained, for the killings to continue, there are Hindutva yatras and festivals and displays of gaiety. It is really not an easy time to live in.
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