Picture courtesy ANI news agency
DASARA FESTIVE SEASON is here. The Indian populace is in the grip of a devotional frenzy. The Ganesha festival season has just ended and idols of the elephant-headed God, costig of millions of rupees, have been just immersed in rivers, tanks and sea, throwing along with them tonnes of flowers, plastic and polluting material.
And now the Durga idols will be immersed. It may take till next Ganesha season to clean up all the beaches, river banks and tanks – and the pollution will occur again.
Thousands of crores of rupees are offered in ALL places of worship daily. There are many lakhs of them in the country. In Tirupati, the offerings often cross a crore per day, with some presenting diamond-studded crowns or other ornaments or bundles of currency notes.
It is not in Hindu places of worship alone that offerings are made, though they seem to believe more in quid pro quo: you receive God’s benevolence and you pay for it in the same proportion. This custom might have started in the days when Brahmins, poor by choice, lived on alms and temple offerings. Now they do jobs or even launch business enterprises. The temples too need money for maintenance and upkeep, but the collections far exceed this requirement in most temples.
It is not in Hindu temples alone that people make offerings, In churches plates get passed around for collections. Islam makes it mandatory for every believer to give for charity a portion of the earnings. Mosques and churches too invove big money. Money from churches and mosques is used for monastries, madrasas or proselytisation — to convert more people to the religion by any means.
Recently newspapers have published pictures of a golden Durga idol (above) costing Rs 20 crores (which of course, will not be immersed) at a Kolkata pendal. And that city has lakhs of pendals with very costly idols and fixtures. They also promote high creative talent. Many other cities have also begun putting up Durga pendals. Religion attracts huge wealth in ths country – and in most countries.
If that money is used to build schools, homes for the poor, toilets, bridges to villages cut off during monsoon and such things, the image of India as a nation of snake charmers and beggers, prevalent in Western countries, may change for good.
Whenver there is talk of development, of things like bullet trains or money-earning tourist attractions such as Sardar Patel’s Statue of Unity, self-proclaimed liberals and intellectuals come up with objections, mentioning the above list and more as bigger priorities.
They are right that India needs development.
Some, though far fewer, such voices were raised when my Nagpur friend Vasant Sathe, as Information and Broadcasting Minister, wanted to bring colour to Indian TV. Does any of the objectors now opt for a B&W television set as home? Are such sets seen even in slums, most of which have scores of dish antennas? Do those who object to latest devices go to their offices by bullock carts instead of the AC cars they use? Would they prefer India without ‘unnecessary’ airports and flights?
The present government depending for its existence on ‘Hindutva’ elements may not have the courage to compel religious places to use their huge collections for public welfare.
There is a close link between organised religion and commerce.
Here is a comment on this:
कम से कम दो साल के लिए भी ऐसा हो जाये देश का विकास,बिजली बचत हो जायेगा l
हर शहर के हर मोहल्ले में एक़ पूजा भी कर दें तो बेहतर रहेगा l
ये तो दिखावा और काला धन खर्च कर पाप शुध्दीकरण स्थल जो हो गया