The Intellectually enlightened liberal Bengalis take immense pride in being worshippers of Shakti, worshipping the Supreme Power in a female form. Durga Puja happens to be the primary and most important festival of Bengal. The Bengali community is extremely sensitive about the Durga Puja and the leftist liberals amongst the lot have been constantly capitalizing on this sensitivity to propagate their skewed ideology into the mind of the quintessential Bengali.
Every year, a few months before the Durga Puja commences, these liberals start off with their Hinduphobic campaigns targeting Dura Puja and utilizing the Bengali sentiment regarding the same, in various forms in different fora – be it in the myriad web portals made available in social media or through the print and electronic media. Initially, they started off with the ‘Amar Durga, Tomar Durga’ (My Durga, your Durga) campaign wherein they tried to convey that, when crores were spent on the Durga Puja celebrations, the poor in our country are still going to bed without food. This campaign was ably countered by the non-leftist Bengalis stating the fact that the Durga Puja committees perform charitable activities too, for instance, they distribute food and new clothes to the pavement dwellers and other poor people.
They also organize ‘Kangali Bhojon’, i. e providing food to the poor on any one day of the Puja. Some well-known, traditional Puja Committees like Bagh Bazar Sarbojonin in North Kolkata and Maddox Square in South Kolkata do organize such events. Hence, a part of the money spent on the Puja celebrations does go for the welfare of the poor. Besides, they were also called out for their double standards as they never speak a word on the lavish festive celebrations by other religious communities. Due to a massive counter-campaign, the ‘Amar Durga, Tomar Durga’ campaign just disappeared in thin air.
Next we had the ‘Santanan Dehi’ campaign organized by the Telegraph, the leading English Daily from the ABP group. The Durga Anjali mantra where we chant ‘Putran Dehi’ appeared to be misogynistic to these elitist liberals and hence their desire to replace it with ‘Santanan Dehi’ to make the mantra appear ‘Gender neutral’ according to them, was given due diligence by the left inclined newspaper, The Telegraph. The said campaign reflects the shallowness of these leftist liberals and their lack of knowledge of Hindu rituals and hymns. In Sanskrit, the word ‘Putroh’ means a single sin, ‘putrou’ means two sons and ‘Putrah’ means more than two sons. Now if we look at the Durga Anjali Mantra in question, it appears thus: ‘Om Ayurdehi, Jasho Dehi, Bhagyang Bhavati Dehi mei, Putran Dehi Dhanang Dehi, Sarbanna, Kamangshcha Dehi mei’. In the instant mantra, all the terms, Ayu (lifetime), Bhagya (fortune), Dhan (wealth) have been referred to in the singular form. Now, if ‘Putr’ meaning ‘son’ were to be referred in the singular form, it would have been written as ‘putroh’ not as ‘putran’. Hence, it is apparent that ‘putran’ here implies ‘putra aadi’ meaning both son and daughter, not just son alone. Besides, the audacity that they exhibited by them in trying to tamper with a Hindu ritual and it’s the inherent mantra, they will not have the courage and the gumption to attempt the same with the practices of any other religious community. However, much to their chagrin, even this campaign was cold-shouldered by the common Bengalis, when they were heard confidently chanting ‘Putran Dehi’ during Durga Anjali.
A host of similar campaigns start popping up right before the pujas parallel with the numerous puja offers by the corporate houses. Two of such campaigns which are extremely popular with the leftist feminists of Bengal are ‘The Sanitary Napkin’ campaign and ‘Devi is violated by predatory men’ campaign. One gets to see these two every year to such an extent that these have now become hilarious. The first one appears as a photo of a sanitary napkin with the third eye of Maa Durga drawn on it , kept on a puja thali. This is supposed to be an ‘elitist, feminist’ protest against the practice of menstruating women not participating in puja rituals.
The ridiculous nature of the campaign is evident from the fact that no one actually checks as to who is menstruating during puja time. Hence such a campaign is futile making the campaigners appear foolish. This age-old practice has been diligently followed by our mothers and grandmothers and we never hesitate to follow suit or have ever thought of questioning the practice. There is a fable behind this practice, which we may discuss separately rather than making this article lengthy.
The second campaign is an instant favourite of all the feminists – the picture of a woman dressed as Maa Durga lying on the floor and many pairs of black hands, signifying rapists/molesters pinching, grabbing, squeezing and hitting her. This is nothing but a pictorial representation of their age old narrative that ‘In the land where Devi is worshipped, our devis are being violated’. Rape is a heinous crime which I consider worse than murder even because it kills a woman’s soul even if she physically survives.
There is also no denial of the fact that rapes are commonplace in our country, it is one social evil which the strictest of laws may fail to root out completely. But incidents of rape are not specific to India alone – in fact, India ranks 94th in registering rapes per million of the population, as per the World Population Review, South Africa being on the top of the table. However, mere statistics cannot and will not absolve the perpetrators of rape and violence against women and such an act warrants the severest of punishments. But such portrayals seemingly are meant to target the Hindu community, making them feel guilty and apologetic of their religious identity, just days ahead of a major Hindu festival.
Every time the news of a rape incident breaks and whenever the revelation of names of rapists indicates that they are non-Hindus, it is these very leftists who preach morality in stating rapists have no religious identity. But they do not hesitate in associating a Hindu festival and Hindu deity with rape and by doing so subtly, covertly castigate the Hindu men. Hence such portrayal is not only derogatory to the Hindu religion per se but to all the Hindu men who toil hard and make all-out effort to take care of their women and their families- not violate them.
Unfortunately such negative potrayal of a Hindu festival/ritual has many takers from among the youth and other gullible members of the community, specially women. Such pictorial representations, done continuously and serially leave an indelible impression in one’s mind – try analyzing such campaigns unbiasedly to feel their impact. If one is absolutely unaware of the hindu rituals, practices and their implications, one is bound to be taken in, specially with so much of hate campaign systematically going on against the hindu culture.
Though such campaigns gain momentum during Durga Puja in Bengal, but are also seen during other hindu festivals like Holi, Raksha Bandhan, Ganesh Chaturthi, Janmashtami and of course during the major Indian festival of Diwali. The choice left with us now is to kill such campaigns with a massive united campaign by one and all against this in the form of a counter campaign, particularly using social media as a platform, as was done against the “Amar Durga, tomar Durga” campaign, thereby killing it altogether.
At the same time, it is imperative to make our younger generation aware of the Hindu rituals and practices along with their significance so that our youth do not become averse to Hinduism under the influence of such negative media campaigns. The onus lies on the seniors in every Hindu household to take it upon themselves to educate their wards about the beauty of Hinduism. Unless this is done, Hindus risk losing their religious and ethnic identity in the face of such an aggressive Hinduphobic media campaign
Ranita Chanda shares her personal opinion through the Social Opinion Segment of Bollywood Shollywood.