Rasheeda Bhagat

Religious excesses in a time of Covid

Rasheeda Bhagat | Updated on July 20, 2021

Homage to Danish Siddiqui   -  AFP

All religious congregations, without exception, must be banned in view of the uncertain pandemic situation

It is amazing to see how little it takes to get the communal cauldron boiling in our country. Once again, two days before the Muslim festival, #BakriEid, was trending on Twitter. Predictably, self-proclaimed protectors of Hindus were taunting PETA for remaining silent when goats were going to be sacrificed for the festival. One tweet with the image of a goat said: “Hey PETA, Eid is coming will you save me?? Or you work only during Hindu festivals?” Another, referring to the killing of Pulitzer prize winning photo journalist in Afghanistan, Danish Siddiqui, said: “#Covid hotspot Kerala has relaxed restrictions for Eid. Too bad #Danish Siddiqui isn’t around to take pictures.” The sarcasm cannot be missed.

The way in which some people on social media, particularly Twitter, celebrated the killing of the courageous photo journalist, well known for his brilliant photographs of the Rohingya refugees, a mob thrashing a man during the anti-CAA protests, farmers protest, and many other poignant pictures, was heartbreaking.

Anyway, returning to the celebration of Bakri Eid, the criticism of the Kerala government for a three-day relaxation of the lockdown to facilitate shopping at a time when Covid cases are going up in the State, is totally justified. Allowing a congregation of less than 40 people in mosques during a pandemic such as the one we are undergoing, is a terrible administrative call.

Particularly after the suffering and trauma this country faced so recently during the peak of the second wave, and when a third wave appears imminent, going by most health experts. If holding the Kumbh Mela was a suicidal decision, and the Kanwar Yatra, scheduled to begin on July 25, has been cancelled, then let Bakri Eid, too, be celebrated at homes, in small family gatherings.

The UP government was forced to call off the Kanwar Yatra on the intervention of the Supreme Court, which said it cannot allow the UP government “to hold 100 per cent physical Kanwar Yatra in view of Covid”, and observed that religious sentiments are subservient to the Right to Life. The Maharashtra government has rightly announced restrictions and asked people to offer prayers at home. It said that as all religious places have been shut due to Covid, and that Eid congregations will not be allowed in mosques.

Meat will have to be bought online or delivered as livestock markets are shut, and citizens have been asked to make “symbolic sacrifice”. Muslims leaders from the Congress were up in arms last year at the “symbolic sacrifice” bit, but when human lives are at stake, religious traditions have to take be put on hold. Or, why not defer it? Make the sacrifice when your State allow it. Where public health and safety are concerned, and never before have these been more fragile, then any and every religious belief has to take a back seat.

Actually, it should be our religious leaders asking the government to cancel a Kumbh Mela or large Eid gatherings. But the unfortunate reality in India today is that each religion feels threatened and, ironically, this includes the majority religion! So, instead of preaching sense and calm during the pandemic, most religious leaders are busy stirring up the pot . The result is people coming out in large numbers, flouting safety norms and even discarding the mandatory masks, to celebrate this, that or the other.

Love Jihad

What happens in Yogi’s UP during Bakri Eid will be interesting to watch. Meanwhile, the “love jihad” bogey continues to vitiate communal peace in India. In Maharashtra there have been two successive cases where attempts were made to deter a Hindu woman from marrying a Muslim man. In the first case reported from Nashik, the ‘leaked wedding card’ caused a problem, and in the second, two men and one woman visited a Hindu family and tried to dissuade the girl from marrying her Muslim fiancé.

While the father was clearly frightened, the feisty women filed a police complaint. Even though the police made “enquires” and warned the nosy neighbours, no FIR has been filed. After Ahmedabad, Mumbai has got the dubious distinction of openly refusing to rent or sell flats in “Hindu colonies” to Muslims.

Farhan Akhtar’s latest movie, Toofan, a disappointing one to say the least, touches upon this phenomenon. Other cities are following suit, and sadly enough, this is happening also in a city like Chennai, which we thought has managed to keep at bay communal riots and communal hate. Increasingly, several housing societies are keeping away Muslims, on the pretext of the colony being “vegetarian”. That nobody, is fooled, is another story.

Published on July 19, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like