Where are we going as Hindus ? Our festivals have turned into pompous shows of extravagance. Celebrations with families and neighborhood have been overthrown by the pandals and festival melas, all trying to outdo each other with outlandish decors and loud speeches and celebrities and politicos. The sounds of the bells and the gongs and the conches are drowned by the loudspeakers blaring bhajans to the tunes of Bollywood songs. Diwali used to be a festival of lights, poojas, diyas and rangolis. Instead we are lured by the mindless pre Diwali sales, the artificial electric lights and the booming crackers. Holi has become synonymous with outrageous songs, rain dances, alcohol and leering. Come Janmasthami, and cash prizes are offered for the dahi handi with many govindas losing their lives, or worse paralyzing themselves, in a bid to outperform each other in the race to climb and claim the coveted prize. Raavan dahan of Dussehra turns into a tragedy for hundreds, as people are drowned in the frenzy while safety takes a backseat. The return of the kaawads becomes a political game with the parties across towns making their shivirs on the roads, blocking main ways and turning traffic into mayhem. And then we take all the moortis and the flowers and the prasad, wrapped in toxic paints and plastic, and dump them into the rivers and choke them.
Why have our festivities turned into circuses of blind faith and tomfoolery and jarring displays of feigned reverence? Does God pick out and award the best ?… the best decorated pandal, the most exorbitantly decorated idol, the best lit house, and the people that promote these antics. Does he reward these picked winners with his grace, and shower them exclusively with his blessings ? Is the surest way of making God listen to your prayers, is to sing songs in his honor over microphones and loudspeakers, and to make them loud and clear for every earthly being living within the ten mile radius ?
What are these religious revelers thinking, if they are, at all, thinking ? …
“ Well, hello, hello. Jai Siya Ram, Har Har Mahadev, Jai Shri Krishna and Jai Mata Di. What are these ridiculous questions ? How can you call yourself a Hindu ? You should be ashamed of yourself. We don’t build pandals, Devi maa gives us sandesh to do it. If it blocks a main street, so be it. Everybody has to make sacrifices. What traffic are you talking about ? Isn’t there already so much traffic in the city ? One pandal here and there, and it sets the tongues rolling. Bloody heretics ! How can you tell us how to celebrate our festivals ? We will build huge Raavan effigies near railway tracks, and we will burn them to the ground. Come Diwali, we will burn a billion crackers, we will light bombs, and we will fly rockets till kingdom come. Jisko bura lagta hai lage. This is between our God and us. Why shouldn’t we make merry on Holi, and drink and smoke and dance and tease the mohalla girls ? Even Lord Shiva smokes ganja. And what about Lord Krishna’s gopikas ? You talk about the bhajans on loudspeakers. The songs we play are in honor of our Gods. They are loud so that everyone can hear how ardently we love them. Ye bhakton ka zamaana hai. Did you donate for the Navratri celebrations in your locality ? No ? No wonder the celebrations were so lackluster this year. Well, you Madam, are a disgrace and an atheist and you will rot in hell for that. And you are no longer a responsible citizen of this country. You are more concerned about the plants and animals and the environment, than you are about human beings. All this nonsense about Diwali crackers terrifying the animals and the smoke killing the plants. You ask us to care about them when even God doesn’t. If he did, he would have made them humans. You see, we humans are made in the image of God. And we please only him. Rest of the earth gayi tel lene. The rivers ? What are you talking about ? Ganga Maiyya is self cleansing – the holy water washes away all the dirt and sins. Yamuna ? Doesn’t she drain into Ganga ? You environmentalists have a habit of poking your noses into everything. With the blessings of Bholenath and Mata Rani, our celebrations will continue. And the bhakts will rule the world.”