I Think

Deepavali rant

Different cultures celebrate deepavali for different reasons. In north india, it is celebrated to mark the victorious return of Rama to ayodhya after the war and the completion of his exile. I am guessing the tradition of annual celebration was passed on as a royal decree, in which case it is ludicrous that we continue to hang on to outdated imperialist dogma. The sending off of Rama on exile was totally a private affair and it is unreasonable to solicit public participation in the event of uniting of the royal family. Besides, the war that Rama undertook was also on questionable grounds. Having one's spouse held as a captive in a hostile neighbouring nation is distressing, agreed. But Rama hardly followed the correct protocol of diplomatic dialogue to free Sita. He sent a mischievous simian to negotiate the release of Sita. If I were the king of Lanka, I would quite naturally feel outraged at such insolence. And what was Rama expecting? a release after just one round of talks? He should have arranged talks at neutral venues like Doha, Cairo, Geneva and then hoped to see progress. Besides Sita had only been in Lanka for a year or two, we have people like Sarabjit Singh spending a couple of decades in a similar situation and still wait patiently for justice. In what can be described as a classic case of juvenile intolerance among the upper rungs of society, Rama went to war and victory in such a war is hardly a reason to celebrate.

In south india, deepavali is celebrated to commemorate the slaying of Narakasura by some goddess(was it parvati?). Narakasura was the self proclaimed benevolent dictator of the dominion of… well, all earth. During his reign he had inadvertently made foes with the Devas(a powerful lobby, which controlled everything from wind, water, air etc), after usurping their powers. We only know one side of the story, it could easily have been a case of well meaning bureaucratic restructuring and reshuffling that every regime change brings about. In any case, his beheading was unwarranted. Had it happened today, we would have had Arnab Goswami and Barkha Butt screaming with righteous indignation and pontificating why this constitutes an act of terror, and why we should stop all emotional sympathy to the goddess. The real reason cited for celebrating deepavali is that before dying Narakasura requested that his death be celebrated. Now at what point between his head being severed and dying was this request made will remain a mystery. I think Narakasura would have said something like 'deepa cut aairukku, semma vali, tincture kodunga ' and the onlookers would have misheard it as 'deepavalia kondadunga'. Still, murder is definitely not a reason to celebrate.

So why do we go on with it?

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