I am hardly religious but at the same time neither I am an atheist. I believe in god – but the association of god with religion, traditions and superstitions is something I am really very wary of.
Okay, with this clarification out of the way now, let me proceed with what has been really pissing me off for some time now.
Blaring music on loud speakers at all odd hours of the day and night is very much a part of our being, in India. We consider it our birth right and our obligatory duty to broadcast our happiness, sorrow, loyalties, anything and everything at “high volume”. From the 'baraats' in the wedding season in the crowded residential streets to the DJ 'dandiya' nights in the neighborhood apartments, the first birthday celebration of the neighbor’s kid next door, and the 'jagaratas' and 'satsangs' in the community spaces – noise pollution is all pervasive. Cacophony has always been synonymous with celebration.
Most of us thanked god for small mercies when the Supreme Court of India passed the landmark judgment that took baby steps toward reducing or rather containing the clamor that the so called members of the various civilized and spiritual societies were creating. You can read the details here.
As any other rule, this too has not seen a complete and absolute implementation but at least in the National Capital territory and region, we have had some respite from the menace of “loud speakers”.
Cut to Chennai – T Nagar, to be precise – 5 in the morning - for more than a month now I continue to be rudely woken up by chants of 'sabiramalai' and 'aiyappa' coming from some small temple across the road.
Though I usually crib more than an average human being, I swear to god I really don’t mind the occasional ear-splitting music on a film star’s birthday, or a politician’s death anniversary or a festival - Silence can be deafening too – I need some din around to maintain my sanity levels (however low anybody might think those to be :p).
However, the last month and a half have been terrible and intolerable. In the name of God to disrupt an entire neighborhood is ostentatious.
Are our gods hard of hearing? Are they deaf? My god isn’t and I am sure yours is not too.
I would still make some concession had it been a 'kirtan' kind of a setup where people get together and recite prayers to their gods – you know at least they were devoted enough to do that – But no, here somebody is indecent enough to put recorded songs with tunes bordering on film music on a loud speaker before the sun even decides to rise – this is not a means to connect with god but a form of community entertainment.
As an obvious reaction, I asked my FIL to complain – register a formal police complaint – after all, this is an infringement of what is laid out in the rule book. Haa! Only if our judicial system was good enough - My FIL told me that they all have tried and given up – each time they get the same response – “Why do you want to get into all this, you are educated – why do you want to go against these fanatics who will do anything in the name of religion – your complaint will spark off a class and caste war (this will make a lot of sense to people who are aware of the caste politics in Tamil Nadu); just close your windows, put cotton in your ears and ignore – why should you get your hands dirty”.
And so we, the citizens of the largest democracy in the world, put cotton wool in our ears and shut our windows and eyes, lock our houses and tongues, and continue to live, seething inside … and blogging on cyber space in a vain attempt to compensate for the actions we never take and the compromises we make.