So it’s that time of the year again when people who are neutral to both parties, have to decide where to go; to Garba or to Durga Puja. I had to make such a decision this year because of two reasons, the first being that the majority of my friends are Bengalis and the other being that the place I used to go to watch Garba, cancelled at the last moment due to torrential rains (that came out of nowhere).
So, this was the year of the Mother Goddess and so we went around visiting all the Bengali associations organizing the puja, clicked a lot of photos, ate a lot of chicken and also prayed a
lot wee bit.
One of the main places we visited continuously over the days was quite close to my place and one of my friends was involved in service at the alter there. The first thing we noticed as we entered the place was a stall containing two shiny new cars of a certain company that had played a major role in sponsoring the event. I was amused and so was my friend because we were hoping to test-ride that very car the previous day. How curious! An omen? Maybe… Anyhow, we proceeded within and payed our respects to the Mother Goddess after which turned directly to the awesome and highly over-priced food stalls that one usually finds at such occasions. This became a routine for us and every day we couldn't help but notice the cars right at the entrance. We held our tongues at the religious sentiment of our zealous friend but one day we simply couldn't restrain ourselves and we told her what we had envisioned for Durga Puja next year. Goddess Durga riding a car instead of the Lion and running over the Demon Mahisasur.
Her reaction? Well, let’s just say that if she were Cyclops, we’d be charred remains of human beings; that’s how she looked at us. But after a moment she looked towards the massive statue, glanced at the cars and burst out in a fit of laughter that assured us that we were not going to be kicked all the way home after all.
This incident however has drawn me to think of events and especially those of the religious kind, which have become increasingly more commercialized over the years. When we look at Navratri or Ganeshotsav or Durga Puja in this instance, I’ve felt that religion has not only become more politicized as we know, but even more commerce driven. Asking conglomerates to sponsor such events instead of collecting money from the religious; leasing out food stalls to restaurants and caterers instead of having community meals and putting up hoardings and banners at a place of religious worship are all signs that, according to me, is leading the youth away from not only religion, but also spirituality per se. when we youngsters see our God/s being sold out in such a way, we tend to wonder about the futility of it all. It is exactly contradictory to what is taught to us by way of religious education here in India.
How then can the older generation rightly claim that we, the youth, are not spiritual?
Don’t they see that they have lost us somewhere down the line?
But I think, on the brighter side, it is this very disillusionment that has allowed the youth today to think freely and that in my opinion is what is required today; to think fresh, anew, without the bonds of religion to hinder the progress of this nation.
Note: This post is not meant to be disrespectful to any religion, people or God/s. It is just my personal opinion on what I've observed in my vicinity. Any connection to people (living or dead) or Companies (and franchises) or Gods (and Goddesses) is merely coincidental and is not deliberately meant.