Mayawati, Elephants and Election Commission
Recently, the Election Commission in India took up a massive exercise to drape all the elephant statues erected by Mayawati because the symbol of BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) happens to be an elephant. The Chief Election Commission (CEC) justified this move as an appropriate step ‘to ensure the statues do not disturb the level playing field and give undue advantage to BSP’.
While the erection of so many elephant statues by Mayawati is a silly act, draping them before elections by Election Commission makes it sillier. Why draping these statues makes a silly exercise is very simple. The symbol of Congress is an open palm. Now, there are many deities in the country which show an open palm. Would CEC give an order to drape all these deities or cover these open palms so that Congress does not get undue advantage? Some of the political parties in India have cycles and cars as political symbol. Would CEC give drape these vehicles? What do we do if the symbol happens to be a tree? Would we cover every tree then?
Made Snana in Karnataka
There is a controversy raging in Karnataka now. In some of the temples, as a tradition of five hundred years, Dalits roll their bodies over plantain leaves on which Brahmins have just eaten. This they believe will cure certain ailments. The Government of Karnataka is now debating whether this practice should be banned. Now, I come as a strong supporter of rights and privileges of lower castes and underprivileged in India, and yet, I don’t think Government of Karnataka should make its business to preside over what mature adults do of their volition within the confines of a temple, unless that temple happens to be a government property.
The Dalit person who wants to roll over leftovers of another man is an adult, and so is the Brahmin who just ate his food in a plantain leaf. And what two consenting adults do without harming each other or themselves is of no business of the government. Unless it is proven that a Dalit has been forced or compelled directly or indirectly to roll over the leftovers of a Brahmin, it does not call for intervention of the Government of Karnataka to take up the case.
Gururaj Bhat of Pernankila village in Udupi district, who participated in the ritual, said he had been participating in it for the last eight years. “Good things have happened to me due to ‘made snana',” Mr. Bhat claimed.
So, according to me, all these people who are protesting this ‘obnoxious’ action should spend time educating the Dalit and the Brahmin that no matter what they do, their sins will not be atoned nor their wishes be granted by the Supreme Being just because they rolled over a set of leftovers of upper caste men.
And best statement comes from a seer who is against the ban because “because it involves the sentiments of thousands”. There you go. Once again our sentiments are hurt.
One participant asked a relevant question, ‘Just because it is a 500-year-old ritual, should it be allowed to continue?’
My answer is ‘why not?’ Don’t we tolerate so many superstitious and ridiculous actions on a daily basis? Don’t mother-in-laws drop off their bahus with a godman to beget a kid? Don’t we rub ash on our forehead to ward off evil spirits? Don’t we take up fast and give up our hair to get brownie points from our gods? Don’t mothers pray on behalf of daughter and sons and make them do all kinds of silly rituals? Don’t people take a dip in cold water and give up food for days, don’t people lash their own backs, and punish themselves to make atonements and get wishes granted? Shouldn’t we banning all those actions?