Our country is flooded with festivals that celebrate our rich heritage, culture and our diverse religions. All our festivals are filled with positive vibes, colour, and smiles. If I go on, there will be volumes to describe our very favourite festivals. One festival where we invest a lot of our time and money is our festival of democracy.

We had a mammoth festival of democracy i.e. our general elections where we choose our “supreme leader” for the second time. Amidst all the hoo-hah about EVM’s, all the allegations by opposition, the drama, the armpit licking section of media’s third-grade theatrics we got our leaders elected. Half a year down the line we are still not getting over the celebration. Still, we want answers from Jawaharlal Nehru and the opposition rather than the propositions and the promises made by the one in power. Are you in disbelief? Don’t worry. We got you covered.

Not more than half a dozen months earlier we have witnessed one of the greatest mandates of our country. Ever since then there is a mystery in every celebration, there’s a tinge of communalism in every colour, there are war cries instead of hymns and many more oxymoronic activities. Religion, which is supposed to be a private affair suddenly became a sense of pride. Riots have become a kind of birthright for some toxic anti-social elements who have been breeding in the dark shadows of religion. Lynching has become bread and butter of few. The presence of a festival and the true essence of it is slowly getting diminished due to the overwhelming support for these crass cult figures. This is degrading our pious practices to a means of violence of some scale. All of a sudden when we wake up from our slumber and see we’ll probably see democracy dancing naked to the tunes of fascist forces who have spread like a farce off late in our country.

We recently celebrated Navratri. Nine pious days where women are worshipped as a source of strength, wealth, prosperity and what not. When this was happening there was something happening as well. Victims of rape by so-called religious leaders and elected representatives have become so rampant where we are so diligent to act and bookcases against the victim. I didn’t make a typing mistake. Yes, cases were booked against the victims and not their perpetrators. Are we celebrating women for this? No, we are not hinting at any party nor blaming any organization. But the problem is we accommodating it as something normal. That’s alarming.

What better can religion be used for if it can protect those who are in favour of cutting trees? Aarey protests and the court holiday conundrum is the live example for it. The decision to cut the trees came on the day when the cutting started and those who are protesting to stop the cutting of trees as the court will go for Navratri holidays. All the damage to the ecosystem of Aarey has been so meticulously scripted with the festival also in the thick of things.

While we light up Diyas in our homes for Diwali, we hope there will be Diyas of hope and air of freedom in Kashmir where things are superficially made to look pretty while the darker aspects still dangle like a dagger around the neck of the people. Their smiles will mean the real integration of India. Hopefully, all the happenings will strive to reach that. Alas! I guess that is too big a dream to turn into reality.

The fun in festivals is getting confined only to a selected few. Only a handful are enjoying the perks and privileges of religion which ought to be a right for all. There are crooked priests who allure the marginalized and convert them into a particular religion, then there is one religion which tries to prove it’s the supreme religion in the world, one religion is too orthodox for women. Agreed that there are bad elements in every religion, but celebrating bad and celebrations in favour of bad should not be the way forward for us. A classic example for this is the recent celebration of Gandhi Jayanti where NathuramGodse was garlanded and celebrated and in some places even out celebrated the celebration of the actual Mahatma of this country. This explains the current state of our country, the bad are getting garlanded while the good are mute spectators.