Guest post by MAHTAB ALAM
Last week, after a gap of almost 12 years, when I was asked by my family members to accompany them to see Chhatth Puja, an ancient Hindu festival dedicated to Surya, the Sun God, I could not resist myself and readily agreed to join them. As a school going boy, I had always enjoyed watching the festival and devotees performing the rituals observed for the Puja in my hometown Supaul, a district of Bihar, which borders the Tarai region of Nepal. In the last 12 years, I couldn’t get a chance to do so due to the mobile nature of work I am involved in. The Puja, most elaborately observed in Bihar, Jharkhand and the Terai regions of Nepal in modern times, and those areas where migrants from these regions have a presence. Chhath, usually observed six days after Diwali, was observed on 12 November this year. Continue reading This Chhath Puja, Ram ke naam: Mahtab Alam
Guest post by WARISHA FARASAT
I was a child when the Babri Masjid was desecrated. After the news of the demolition spread across Uttar Pradesh, we were huddled in buses and packed off home from our boarding school. We were happy that the school had announced the winter break earlier than usual. That apart, we didn’t think much of the episode. In fact, I think that we were oblivious, almost entirely, to the gravity of the incident.
Much later, when I read the Sri Krishna Committee Report on the Bombay riots of 1992-93, and about thousands who had lost their life in the aftermath of the demolition, memories of 1992 returned. I remembered whispers. I remembered the fear in the eyes of our teachers accompanying us home. I remembered the instructions to the bus driver not to stop the bus if we were mobbed. I remembered leaving school at three in the morning. And, I remembered being asked not to tell my real name if we were stopped. Continue reading Ayodhya Verdict: Does it provide closure?
(This post is by SUBHASH GATADE. It was initially inadvertently posted under Aditya Nigam’s name. The error is deeply regretted.)
I. Conflating Hinduism and Hindutva
Mr Mohan Bhagwat, the ‘young’ Supremo of an eighty plus year old exclusively male cultural organisation called Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is in high spirits these days.
It is not very difficult to understand the glee on his face which has to do with the latest developments in the cause celebre of Sangh Parivar. One can even notice that every member of this different kind of ‘family’ also seem to be upbeat , whose representatives can be traced on neighbourhood playground in the morning doing drills, playing games or listening to ‘sermons’ of their seniors which they call Baudhik.
Continue reading Bhagwat Purana of a Different Kind
Guest post by BISWAJIT ROY
In my earlier piece, I had noted Justice Khan’s pluralist-nationalist sentiments and his anguished pleas to Muslims to ‘avail the opportunity to impress others with the message’ of ‘peace-friend ship- tolerance’ by accommodating Hindu faith-based claims to the area under the central dome of the demolished mosque as Ram Janamsthan. But I failed to find similar sentiments or espousal of the need of inter-community reconciliation on equal footing in the ‘bulky’ exposition of Justice Agarwal, despite his concurrence to Khan’s order for three-way partition of the disputed land, as well as justice Verma’s judgment that had awarded entire place to Hindus.
Continue reading Reading Ayodhya Judgement II: Biswajit Roy
This is a guest post by ROHINI HENSMAN
Reactions to the Allahabad High Court verdict in the Babri Masjid case have varied widely, from triumphalism from some actors, through appeals for calm and hopes of reconciliation from others, to expressions of disappointment and dismay from yet others. This is partly a consequence of the complex character of the split verdict. On the issue of whether a Hindu temple had been destroyed in order to build the Babri Masjid in 1528, S.U. Khan, in a minority opinion, said that it was built on the ruins of a temple, but nothing was destroyed, while Justice D.V. Sharma and Justice S. Agarwal held that a Ram temple had been destroyed in order to build the mosque. On the issue of whether it was the Ram Janmabhoomi, Justice Sharma, in a minority judgment, ruled that the site was the birthplace of Lord Ram, and therefore the entire property should go to the Hindu litigants. The majority judgment of Justice Agarwal and Justice Khan stated that Hindus believed it was the birthplace of Ram, and divided the property three ways, giving one-third to the Sunni Waqf Board and two-thirds to Hindu litigants. The status quo was to be maintained for three months, during which the parties were free to appeal the judgment in the Supreme Court (Allahabad High Court 2010).
Continue reading The Ayodhya Verdict: Rohini Hensman
[In this guest post, Susmita Dasgupta throws light on some important aspects of the Ayodhya issue that have been misunderstood. First, she argues that there is an anomaly in treating the Nirmohi Akhara as a “Hindu” group, when in fact historically, akharas (aakhra in Bengali) were gymnasiums associated with sects that were usually opposed to organized and/or textual religions like Hinduism and Islam and claimed themselves to be non-Hindus. More importantly, she points out that the worship of the child-God – Ram Lalla, or Balkishan – was an important ingredient of defiance against organized religion. The Hindu appropriation of Ram Lalla, she argues, is therefore the greatest anomaly in the case, and this is the anomaly, she suggests, that historians should have focused on.]
Archaeologists are divided over the issue of whether a Ram Temple at all existed under the dome of the Babri Masjid and the Muslim theologicians are divided over whether the Babri is a legitimate mosque at all because in Islam if a mosque is built over a heathen’s structure of worship then it is not fit for prayers. Historians from JNU are almost universally concerned that whatever the archaeology is, the mosque should remain intact as a historical monument. The secularists are upset that the fictitious Ram Lalla be accepted as a party to a dispute and every structure of the Muslims could be pulled down on the flimsiest belief that the land archaeologically belonged to the Hindus. Such a judgment would then be a precedent in pulling down every mosque in the land and may even cast aspersions on the continued existence of the Taj Mahal and Red Fort !! I, too share similar concerns.
Continue reading Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla Virajaman: Susmita Dasgupta
December 6, 1992
A shameful and shocking judgement.
I am shattered by what it does, by its implications for democracy, and by the statement it makes about what we can expect for the future.
My rage is growing with every statesman-like pronouncement from one pompous man after the other in the media, gravely holding forth on the maturity of the compromise that has been reached.
Continue reading The Second Demolition: Ayodhya Judgement September 30, 2010
Guest post by HILAL AHMED
There are three areas which I think we need to underline.
A. Technical problem: The question of applied principles
I ask a very fundamental question: How could a modern secular judiciary- technically an institutionalized ‘interpreter’ of the Constitution- determine the legal disputes related to religious places of worship on the grounds of ‘faith-based’ evidences?
All the three judges seem to recognize the fact that the Hindu beliefs should be (must be) taken as legal facts. Interestingly, these beliefs are supported by archeological report of 2003 to form an argument of judicial nature.
However, and quite astonishingly, the Sunni Wakf Board’s (SWB) case was dismissed on legal-technical grounds following a very mechanical interpretation of the Limitation Act.
But for Nirmohi Akhara and VHP case (referred as Ram Lalla virajman) the principle of faith was given primacy and in order to substantiate it further ASI report which is full of contradictions, is expanded to arrive on a conclusion.
Continue reading How to Not Read the Ayodhya Judgement: Hilal Ahmed