I am not a religious person. The only pooja I do is “pet- pooja” (eating). Mithila region of Bihar, where I come from , is a land of foodies. Maithils are obsessed with fish, mangoes, choora-dahi and makhanas (gorgon nuts). Being a gourmet, I like Ganeshji, the elephant-god so popular with the Hindus. I share with Ganesh his love for laddoos. In fact, one of Ganesha’s synonyms is “modak-priya (he who loves laddoos). Ganesha is very popular with Bollywood stars. In fact, Ganesha is himself a super-star in Bombay. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with much fanfare in India’s commercial capital and cries of Ganpat Bappa Moriya rent the air. It is amusing to see zero-sized Bollywood heroines praying before the pot-bellied Ganesha. Ganesha is also known as “lambodar” (the pot-bellied). If laddoos come, can a pot belly be far behind? Don’t expect Ganesha to sip green tea to stay slim!
In the Hindu culture, Shri Ganesha is another name for auspicious beginning. My Babooji, who is now 102, was in the habit of saying Siddha Data Ganesha whenever we set out on a journey.
RSSwallas know Ganesha’s hold on the Hindu psyche. In 1995, the RSS propaganda network made Ganesha idols drink milk and called it the milk miracle! I was appalled to see lakhs of educated Hindus making a beeline at temples to offer milk to Ganesha. In a poor country like India where millions of kids starve, offering milk to Ganesha was the height of hypocrisy and shamelessness. But Hindus justify all their hypocrisies by using the magic word “aastha” (faith)!
Today, I saw an Indonesian currency note with Ganesha printed on it. I was pleasantly surprised because Indonesia is not a Hindu Rashtra. It is the country with the highest number of Muslims! India and Indonesia are neighbors, separated only by the Bay of Bengal. Indonesia, earlier called East Indies, is a group of islands. Java, Sumatra, Bali and Borneo are the biggest islands. And Bali is a hot destination for Indian honeymooners. Newlyweds go to Bali and live happily thereafter.
There is a very interesting story about the Indonesian freedom struggle. Indonesia was a Dutch colony, ruled by Netherland. Dr Sukarno was the tallest Indonesian leader. Once it so happened that Sukarno was surrounded by the Dutch troops. The situation looked grim. Pandit Nehru called Biju Patnayak and asked him to rescue Sukarno. Biju, the father of Odisha CM Naveen Patnayak, was an ace pilot. In true Hollywood style, Biju rescued Sukarno as Dutch soldiers watched helplessly. When Sukarno reached his home, his family was overjoyed. On the same day, Sukarno was blessed with a baby girl. A grateful family requested Biju Patnayak to name the little fairy. Patnayak looked out of the window. The sky was overcast. Clouds floated in the sky. He promptly named Sukarno’s daughter Megha (cloud in Hindi). Decades later, that little girl became the President of Indonesia and ruled the country as Megawati Sukarnoputri!
Ganesha on an Islamic country’s currency notes should teach some lessons to Hindutva hotheads. “Butparasti” or idol-worship is “haraam” (banned) in Islam. But Ganesha is displayed on currency notes as a gesture of goodwill to its Hindu citizens. And here in India, Hindu fanatics dream about a “Muslim- mukt Bharat”! And they are working on this divisive agenda. Dhongi Adityanath changed Allahabad to Prayagraj because there is an Allah in Allahabad. What a shame. Gandhiji said Ishwar Allah Tere Naam but Adityanath is following Godse’s footprints.
Day in and day out, Hindu zealots are targeting Muslims in India. In the name of “gau raksha”, innocent Muslims are lynched for allegedly keeping beef. Babri Masjid was demolished to make way for a magnificent Ram Mandir. If a Hindu girl falls in love with a Muslim, the love affair is attacked and called a “love jihad“. Hindu fanatics believe that Al Qaeda is behind roses and chocolates! For these hate-filled Hindus, a Muslim’s rightful place is either Pakistan or Qabristan (a graveyard). And in India, Hindu communalism has donned the cloak of nationalism to gain respectability. When Muslim kids go without milk in the curfew-bound Kashmir, Hindu fanatics chant Vande Matram!
The Indonesian currency notes should teach these crazy people some lessons of love and brotherhood. Muslim-mukt Bharat can’t be our goal. Our goal should be a “nafrat mukt Bharat” where Hindus and Muslims live in harmony and poverty, injustice and unemployment are their common enemies. When the Hindu-Muslim unity is complete in India, Ganeshji will eat some extra laddoos!
(Mr. Amitabh Kumar Das is a 1994 batch IPS Officer. His views are personal)