Guest post by SAJAN VENNIYOOR
In the first few weeks of the year 2012, when members of the Muslim, Christian and Sikh communities were successively offended and humiliated, Hindus are feeling left out.
Even as the Hindu community was reeling under the refusal by a Russian court to ban the Hare Krishna version of the Bhagavad Gita, the year began well for Christians when Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman offended their sentiments by using the word ‘Hosanna’ in a song for Ekk Deewana Tha. The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum, which in the past has been shamefully humiliated by other films, many of which were not released in India, demanded the deletion of the H-word “claiming it is a sacred term for Christians and Jews and should be used only in prayer.” They admitted it was negligent on their part not to have taken offence when the song was released with the same hurtful lyrics in a Tamil film in 2010.
When asked whether Hosanna was not, in fact, a Greek word much older than Christianity and why various churches – St. Joseph in Malta, the Saligao Church in Goa, the Nossa Senhora de Ajuda also in Goa, to name but a few – had allowed this deeply offensive song to be shot in and around their churchyards, several secular Catholics pointed out that they were not responsible for the errors of the church.
“Get the hell away from us, you godless liberal,” they explained.
Within days of this slur on the Christian faith, the Darululoom Deoband issued a ban on the import of Salman Rushdie, giving much satisfaction to various Muslim leaders who immediately appeared on Times Now to debate with Swapan Dasgupta and Ruchir Joshi. It was intolerable, they said, that the apostate writer should visit India for the seventh time since the Iranian fatwa against him was lifted in 1998. “But you tell me about the Bhagavad Gita ban in Russia,” said Asaduddin Owaisi of AIMIM triumphantly, using the Chewbacca Defense. “Why aren’t you talking about that?” he repeated, rendering the normally articulate Dasgupta incapable of talking about anything for a while.
Fearful that the very image of the satanic author would cause rivers of blood to flow through Diggi Palace, the video conference with Salman Rushdie was cancelled at the last minute, causing mild annoyance to people who read books. “That’s plain silly,” said the Muslim Manch representative who had pledged violent protests if Rushdie were to appear in any form. “There is no justification for liberal angst. Liberals are unfeeling sods, the [deleted] [deleted] [deleted] of [deleted].”
Shortly after this affront to the sensibilities of Muslim voters, Jay Leno, the portly American comedian with a long history of dissing the Sikhs launched yet another vicious attack on the community. He suggested that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s summer home on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire looked a lot like the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
American attempts to dismiss this horrendous vilification as a ‘harmless riff on Mitt Romney’s immense wealth’ were furiously refuted by the Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi, who has rich experience of the offence caused to believers by the unthinking. He said, “Freedom does not mean the heartless sentiment of a section of the people, not only in America, but in India also… quite unfortunate, cannot be accepted, we take a very strong objection…” at which point, overwhelmed by the enormity of the deed, words failed him.
For a community that has been successfully offended by clothes, paintings, shoes, movies, swimsuits and beer, this has been a bitter start to the new year for Hindus. Even as Christians, Muslims and Sikhs were nursing their recently wounded feelings, Hindus were fuming at this complete neglect of their community.
“What do they think we are?” demanded the pramukh of one of three Senas presently camped in Jaipur just in case. “Does no one have an unkind word for us? Come on, people, you can do better than that.” On learning that MF Husain, being dead, had almost ceased to offend and anything else that could hurt Hindu feelings had been banned, communicated to the US Embassy or arrested under Section 295A of the IPC, the Sena pramukh asked about Richard Dawkins, an equal opportunity offender who was attending the Jaipur Lit Fest. When told that Dawkins had merely commented on the “noble tradition of atheism in this country”, the pramukh uttered a crisp Sanskrit expletive and left the tent in an overwrought manner.
Later that evening, there was a brief moment of excitement when the Hindu American Foundation announced that a US Senator had launched a ‘blatant attack’ on Hinduism during the gubernatorial race in his state. But it turned out that this particular attack on Hinduism had taken place two months ago, in Kentucky. Said a visibly disgusted Hindu sant (saint), “As if we care what some loser says in the Bluegrass State. It wasn’t even on Letterman.” But when told that the legislator, David Williams, had called Hinduism idolatrous and polytheistic, the saint shrugged. “That’s a description, not an insult. He wasn’t even trying.”
“You have no idea how difficult it is to exercise one’s god-given right to be offended when everybody is being nice to you.” said a spokesperson for the Sri Ram Sene in Bangalore. “It’s so annoying.”
Chicago, 25 Jan 2012. An American television station here has offended the Hindu community after a sports commentary on its website allegedly used the term “weird” to describe their deities.
The commentary on an ice hockey match published on the NBC Chicago website titled ‘Why a 3-1 Blackhawks Loss Isn’t So Bad‘, detailing Nashville Predators beating Chicago Blackhawks 3-1, said Predators were “swallowing up space like some weird Hindu god”.
The author of the commentary, Sam Fels, later clarified that he had meant to offend only the gods of the native Sauk Indians, Lodge-Boy and Thrown-Away, and possibly the Great Spirit Kehci Manito. “I produce The Committed Indian, for chrissake! How would I know if Hindu gods are weird? We do drunken sex jokes about hockey.”