Fri, 08 Jul 2022 06:54 PM IST
Of all the nations in the world, there is perhaps no other nation as diverse as India. Be it language, customs, traditions, or even religion, the level of diversity is simply astounding.
Take the Hindus as an example. While close to 80% of Indians are Hindus, the form and manner in which they practice Hinduism varies across geography. A Hindu in Punjab welcomes the new year differently than a Hindu in Tamil Nadu or Bengal. Not only how they celebrate a single festival varies, but there are certain festivals that are celebrated on different days across the nation. While the Bengali New Year, also called Nobo Borsho, is celebrated on the first day of the initial month of Baisakh, the people in Gujarat celebrate the same festival a day after Diwali.
It's not just about celebrating a festival but there are times Indians contradict their own mythology. Even in the 21st century, women in many parts of the country are not allowed to enter temples or attend religious functions during menstruation. A myth about women being impure during menstruation is still believed to be true. Meanwhile, at the same time, the people of Assam celebrate a menstruating Goddess. The Kamakhya Devi Temple located in Assam has no idol and the place witnesses the celebration of the Goddess's annual menstrual cycle.
It can be safely assumed that a wide variety of customs and traditions define Hinduism for different people. No two versions are the same. What may seem unreasonable to a person in North India may make perfect sense for an individual in Bengal. However, our country has often been involved in conflicts several times. Let's take a recent example. A poster of a documentary, 'Kaali', that was posted on Twitter not only enraged the netizens but an FIR against the filmmaker Leena Manimekalai, Producer Asha and Editor Shrawan Onachan was also filed by the Uttar Pradesh Police. The poster that shows Maa Kaali (Goddess Kaali), smoking a cigarette offended several people across the nation. Several people took to social media and claimed that the poster hurt their religious sentiments. Though many people at the same time also believed that everyone is free to open their thoughts and ideas, a movie poster grabbed all headlines.
However, this is not the first time that an incident like this has offended a particular group of people. An FIR was lodged after a Netflix series, A Suitable, released in 2020 showcased a Muslim boy kissing a Hindu girl in a temple. Madhya Pradesh Police registered the FIR, filed by BJP youth leader Gaurav Tiwari, for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. This was not the only time when a mere scene was accused of hurting religious sentiments. There have been numerous similar instances in the past too. The screening of the movie 'Oh My God', released in September 2012, was put to halt in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur, and other places in Punjab following a protest alleging that the film made derogatory references to Hindu Gods.
In the end, it all boils down to one single question: Are we still not mature enough to accept the fact that people's ideas of following a religion may differ from our idea of the same? Is our idea of God so narrow, that a mere poster or a scene from a movie can shake our faiths?