Yet, a sudden outburst of emotion happens deep inside, perhaps due to the fact that an immigrant Hindu Bengali Indian in America did not get to experience the beautiful, colorful, artistic, fun, and spiritual, autumn festivities — Durga Puja and Diwali — for more than once in his thirty years of exile.
He did not return. He could not return. He did not become a part of that incredible, joyful surroundings in his West-maligned city of Calcutta and devastated, destroyed, torn-apart land of Bengal — a land of artists, poets, musicians, and all such fast-disappearing subtle, humanity spirits.
Today, in spite of being a seasoned, hard-shelled, and perhaps enlightened American immigrant with some worthwhile work accomplished, an empty, crying heart goes back to the place that he left back, a place that built his consciousness, and taught him how to love, and be loved, in the midst of all the poverty, adversity, and violence.
Durga Puja. A beautiful, four-day human mingling happens next week — in India, in Bangladesh, in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto or London, wherever Bengalis and Indians are — but nobody knows, and nobody cares.
We Hindus are media-branded as the pagan religion riddled with castes and superstitions. We never belonged. We never contributed to human civilization. Our temple artistry and engineering that stood hundreds of years, perhaps thousands, do not exist. We never had any science, art, commerce, or anything that they told us the West had invented, and generously donated to us. We are a dark hole in human civilization — they say.
The Abrahamic religions get eulogy, appreciation, and even notoriety, but they do get mainstream mention. But we exist in a vacuum, in complete ignorance and apathy of the elite and educated.
Worse, our own elite and educated have decided to reject and refuse to know a few thousand years of history, because to them, calling yourself a Hindu is synonymous with being a Hindu fanatic. To them, eating beef is something to brag about: to show the world of their class how secular and non-religious they are. I am not a traditional religious, but I have no reason not to belong to Hinduism, because it is my home. I find the deepest comfort in it. I do not believe we deserve the West’s disdain, or that of the Westernized Indian.
This disdain and contempt keep creating more fanatics, just out of insults. Those who do not turn extreme, weep in pain. It’s happening in Islam, and it’s happening in Hinduism. It’s happening in the West too.
I know there is a way to be spiritual, proud of your social and religious identity, without being a zealot. I know there is a way to bring together all the religions and faiths under a common umbrella of humanity and equality. I do not have the power of the media, money or politics. Therefore, my way is my way of writing and speaking, hoping it is working somewhere, some way — one receptive mind at a time.
Are you that receptive mind, willing to hear? I hope you are. I do hope so.
Brooklyn, New York