The list of all the ridiculously inconsequential things that can offend the fragile sentiments of religious outfits and their overzealous followers is a gift that keeps on giving. Several times a year, our courts are called upon to preside over pressing and important matters such as the many ways in which the name of a film could grievously ruin a whole festival for roughly 80 per cent of the population of the country, defending the honour of a fictional queen, and whether a teenager’s wink was, indeed, a tool to insult the love of a prophet for his wife, some 1,500 years ago.
Of course, these are urgent matters of great national importance, and need to be treated as such. Who cares that our courts and judges are being crushed under the weight of an alarming number of backlogged cases — a staggering 3.3 crores of them, at last count. The undertrials can languish and rot in jail for years and decades — let their families go through the soul-destroying experience of making endless futile rounds of police stations and courthouses. Seriously, why bother ourselves with such menial considerations, when the izzat of our religion is at stake?
What’s important is that the cad Salman Khan answer the question burning in the minds of local bullies who become legitimate by anointing themselves president of this Sena or that Parishad: Is he trying to express his contempt for Goddess Durga by calling a romantic film Loveratri (a not particularly intelligent take on Navratri, the 9-day-long festival celebrated in her honour)? And can he be bullied into changing the name to appease the Khakhi chaddi-wearing brigade?
To atone for the sin of bad word-play, Salman Khan, faced with the prospect of an FIR for hurting Hindu sentiments, swiftly changed the movie’s name to Loveyatri. Hopefully, this will be enough to get the brigade to return the hockey sticks and pelting stones to their endless stockpiles, until next time.
As a former dandiya and garba enthusiast, whose family has annual subscriptions with more than one organiser of lavish Navratri events, I can vouch for this: everything that these protectors of Hinduism claim is a gross misrepresentation of their culture is absolutely, unequivocally, one hundred per cent true. No temples are being defiled, and there is no distortion of the festival going on. It’s all true. The cat was never in the bag, no matter how hard they’re now trying to shove her there and keep her from mewling.
To be honest, I think that’s the real reason they’re so mad. It’s easy to ignore and ridicule a lie, but the truth rankles.
No offence to Falguni Pathak, but it’s not her dulcet tones that make young men and women come flocking to overcrowded and overheated grounds. At least that’s not the only reason. Hint: it’s not the stale samosas and lukewarm cold drinks either. The women go because for a whole lot of them, those nine night-long parties are the only time of the year they can be in close proximity of unrelated men with their family’s permission. And the men, well, to put it baldly, the men go in the hopes of getting some pussy — the primary motivation for most of their interactions with the opposite sex. You only have to look at the enthusiastic pelvic thrusts, suggestive swirls, and flirtatious twirls of these sudden dance partners to know this to be true.
It’s easy to get lost in the crush of humanity that throngs to massive manicured lawns for these glitzy garba nights. More than once, I’ve seen a couple tumble out of a Porta Potty, giggling, hair disheveled, clothes in disarray, blouse strings and naadas tellingly loose, while their parents are blissfully unaware that as soon as their backs turned, their spawn extricated themselves from the group of dancers and wandered off in the direction of dark corners and empty bathroom stalls.
In many cases, the parents are a step ahead. Over the years, I’ve seen several cousins and friends being secretly encouraged by their mothers to flaunt, but just the right amount, of their flat tummies and well-defined clavicles in strategically cut cholis for the benefit of the eligible bachelor just out of financial reach. Arranging a financially advantageous marriage is so much easier if the prospective groom is already smitten with the bride.
It’s not for nothing that condom sales skyrocket during Navrati, as is widely known. Neither are all the panicked appointments for abortions, post-Navratri, the results of immaculate conception. Families don’t hire detectives to trail their horny kids to see if they are, you know, disrespecting Durga Ma.
Navratri’s smutty secret has been out for a long, long time, and we’ve all survived. Even Durga Ma knows how to pick her battles, why don’t we?