We Indians are an interesting bunch. There is never a dull day with us around and believe me, we are going to be around for a very long time! We are a very diverse bunch too. No, I am not talking about the diversity in unity and all that jazz. I am talking about the diverse ways in which we continue to shock and make fools of ourselves.
India is a diverse country - we love this line very much. We chant it every time someone asks us to define/describe India. We feel proud and our chests puff up with patriotic love. Nevertheless, this love-shove is only for 'India' and not so much what makes 'India'.
We hate our fellow men/women/children. We happily look down upon everyone we think is not like us. We love caste/creed/race/wealth distinctions. In short, we love every divide there is to help us make better 'Indians'. However, there is one thing that we all love - RELIGION.
Yes, we love 'our' religion. Religion too, is diverse in India and definitely not unified. There is 'my religion', 'your religion' and of course, 'their religion'. In addition, to make sure we always remember this there are the preachers, the so-called sole karta-dharta men of god.
While we continue to love our religion more than anything does, we also make sure that we make our gods richer each day. Yes, we are a poor country with rich gods. We have built many a fancy and opulent homes for our gods. We also religiously love to pay our respects to these deities each day and it is here that we stand united.
Be it the rich, poor or destitute, the love for temple hopping is the same! While we may not think of them every day, we definitely stand in lines for hours just to get a glimpse and handout cash or kind generously. Of course, how will god ever grant any of our wishes if we do not bribe them? Oops, did I say bribe? Arre nahi, I meant donation is obviously required else kaise milega kuch agar hum kuch nahi denge toh?
It is all give and take, our lives, and religion is no different. Our faith and hope in religion strengthens each time we donate generously too.
Now take for example, someone unknown follower of Shri Sai baba donated 2 diamonds worth 1.18 crore. Now Sai baba look wonderful sporting these diamonds, won’t he? Already cast in Silver, his aura continues to shine throughout and now the diamonds are going to make sure that those who have been standing in hour-long queues just to get a far off glimpse of him feel his presence getting stronger. Apparently, the temple trust is super delighted. These are the largest diamonds donated so far, making them 'shinier'!
Now Sai baba is not alone. Ganpati bappa has a huge temple or rather temples just for him! He too is cast is various expensive metals where his devotees come flocking every Tuesday (everyday too!). They sing, dance and donate generously for him. It is little or no matter how much the residents suffer due to all the noise pollution and unnecessary security bubble built around bappa's abode.
Jain temples are in a league of their own. Decked in fresh flowers and bathed in sandalwood, the gods are pampered every day! The daily donations in cash and kind are another matter altogether.
Our Sarvajanik festivals have budgets beyond one's thinking capacity. A festival is a festival and so celebrated in such grandeur as if it is a once-in-a-lifetime-event! It does not matter that we continue to ruin nature (through visarjan and other physical properties of pollution) in the garb of festivities.
In short, we shall continue to offer everything we can to our gods blindly. In a race to build beautiful religious sanctuaries, we have become deaf, dumb and blind to the very core essence of our faith. We have forgotten what Sai baba said to his followers, his principles and so on. We continue to pray to Ganpati bappa not ever really wanting to know what he really wants! Anyone who wishes to question me on this should first attend the visarjan activities at Shivaji Park, Mumbai.
Please note: I am not an atheist. I love Ganesh Chaturthi and my parents are very religious. I have been a spectator to many stupidities carried under the tag of religion. I only speak of what I know.