Today, I found that in CR Park, where I stay -- everyone was watching Ramayana and Mahabharat. Our security guard, Sanjay, who stays on the ground floor with his family, came in the morning with today's newspapers. I asked, “Newspapers, today?” I had not seen the newspaper, in their physical form since the Janta Curfew. That means slowly, but steadily, hawkers have begun distribution. He responded, “Yes, yes...and they are maintaining social distance.”
I nodded, as he asked me, “Chai banayenge aur phir chai peete peete Ramayan dekhenge.” He added that Rani Kaikeyi was a bad woman, and Manthara, was even worse. They conspired and Ram had to go to the forest.
Like him, I watched Ramayan while sipping hot tea. My cat, a queen in her own right, sat next to me and also watched the television in apparent amusement.
This is our Bharat Varsh, our India -- the heritage of Hastinapur that we are still carrying. In 1987, on January 25, Ramayan was first telecast and the next year, Mahabharata was shown on Gandhi’s birthday, October 2. After 33 years, it still carries weight, it is still close to the heart of a majority of Indians. Many say that in the 80s when Ramanand Sagar and BR Chopra’s serial was telecast on Sunday mornings, our neighbourhoods would seem like a curfew had been imposed.
Now, when another lockdown is in progress, the shows have started again.
In India, we have to understand that this Hindu majoritarianism cult and its culture. Our, so-called secular, left-liberal public intelligentsia, ‘the Khan market gang’ as per Modi, can’t understand this mindset. Akshay Mukul, as an author, has done a great job decoding this mindset to show how the Gita Press was fundamental in the creation of this nationalism.
My diet today was entirely made out of fruits: watermelons, papaya, and cucumber. Today is Ram Navami.
I am happy that the Nizamuddin issue of Tablighi Jamaat was sorted out. Maulanas are also issuing statements that this was wrong. I also condemned the lady in UP, the self-styled godwoman, who claimed that she wouldn’t follow government orders while brandishing a sword. Thankfully, the police arrested her.
But we should also condemn the conference at Nizamuddin. States are scrambling to map the trail of over 8,700 devotees who came there. The government is now tracing contacts, and as people are under quarantine, the government expects numbers to rise.
Our chief editor, Rajat Sharma, also appealed to maulanas to not communalize the battle against COVID-19 and I am happy to see that maulanas have reacted positively. Now, religious leaders, of all faiths must direct followers to abide by social distancing norms.
One has to accept the fact that the gathering at Nizamuddin was gravely irresponsible and most likely criminal. Action must be taken against Jamaat leadership. It should not have been held when social distancing norms were in force.
But this is not the time for the blame game. We shall overcome this with time.
I don’t remember the last time Delhi had seen such resplendent skies. The air is cleaner than it has been for ages. The chirping of birds isn’t being overshadowed by the business of the streets. Outside my house, an old couple was sitting watching the sunset. A small radio next to them played out Begum Akhtar, as they sipped tea.