This is Not Religion. This is Anti-God.

bahubali

Durga Puja makeshift temple, built with millions of dollars. In Calcutta, where the poor sleep in the street, and their children go hungry.

(Photo courtesy: Financial Express. For one-time, non-profit, educational use only.)

In the name of worshiping Goddess Durga the Demon Slayer, corporate business-sponsored grandiose, glitzy events are doing precisely what Hinduism teaches us not to do. The organizers of these community celebrations in the city of Calcutta — often political leaders and their henchmen — are spending millions for fun and festivity, fighting for competitive awards, getting more political mileage and media glare, coercing ordinary people to pay for it, and making lives miserable for countless people who do not want to be a part of it.

Goddess Durga is not happy with them. In fact, she is angry.

Let the supreme Goddess’ wrath befall on these demons.

I am aghast at this completely unethical, morally bankrupt, scandalous use of money — in millions (taxed or untaxed) — in a place where countless people do not have enough to eat. They sleep in the street, can’t afford to send their children to school, or buy them a nice shirt at this festive time of the year.

This is the same place where recent floods caused havoc, and made countless poor people homeless. This year in particular, with the scary climate change, the floods across India and Bengal destroyed many lives.

This is the same place where women are victims of sexual violence on a daily basis.

I have no political power, and I live in New York, USA. But I grew up in Calcutta, and I love the city and its sane, intelligent people. I have talked to many people in the past few days. They are all aghast too. But they have no political power, either, and therefore fear for their lives. The entire country of India — my motherland — has now fallen to the rules of religious fanaticism, hate, violence, corruption, misogyny, and mafia.

I do not know exactly how much money is spent on these extravagant, lavish festivities. I have heard that one deity of the goddess is entirely adorned with real gold ornaments costing Indian rupees 6.5 crores, which is one million U.S. dollars. 

One millions U.S. dollars for a four or five-day festivity!

Only one of these grandiose events — the money used for it — could save thousands of children from hunger, diseases, or death. The money could educate school and college children against sexual violence, and institute special programs for saving women from rape and molestation.

Only one such festivity — the cost of it — could do so, so much more.

The makeshift temple I showed above is another example of this grotesque extravagance. This temple will come down in four or five days too!

There is no media outrage, no government outcry, no investigation, no meaningful audit, no income tax raids — things that a clean government (promised by both India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, and by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee) must do, or support. In fact, some of the biggest puja organizers are their party stalwarts.

Through this little blog of mine, I am drawing attention of people everywhere — people who feel such misuse of money and abuse of power are outrageous and criminal, and must be stopped at any cost.

This is no religion. This is not Hinduism. This is pure and simple, total moral degeneration. I invoke Goddess Durga to bring the perpetrators curse. May her wrath burn them.

Slay these morally depraved, dishonest, cruel demons, O Mother. Save our yearning for sanity and humanity from a total, irreversible destruction.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Bengal village Durga Puja

A real, religious, ordinary peoples’ Durga Puja in West Bengal. Priest invoking the Goddess.

Photography of village home puja: Pallabi Pal.

Obama, RSS, and Modi

Once a rioter, now a bedfellow!!
Once a rioter, now a bedfellow!!

RSS, and Modi, and Obama? What the heck is this all about?

Wait. Don’t be so impatient. Let me explain.

RSS — (see below).

Modi — Current prime minister of India, who is RSS (see below). He was indicted a few years ago of inciting a bloody communal riot in the state of Gujarat, and the U.S. government had refused to give him a visa.

(Well…that was then. Now he is a “best friend” the U.S. government has.)

And Obama — we all know Obama. He is now about to visit India, and meet with Modi.

(He is leaving immediately, as a matter of fact.)

Happy? No? Well, let me explain more.

Q. (1) Do you know of RSS?

You do? What is it?

Really Simple Syndication? The computer stuff?

Naahh…wrong!!

I’m talking about RSS, or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Raash…Whaaat??

Wait. Let me explain.

Rashtriya means national, Swayamsevak means volunteer, Sangh means organization. These are all Sanskrit or Hindi or Bengali words.

So, this RSS I’m talking about is basically the National Volunteer Organization. It’s a powerful, grassroots organization in India. They have their branches in all big and many small cities, and numerous villages too. They have millions of volunteers across India and in many other countries too.

Q. (2) What do they do?

They organize Hindus.

Hum. So, what do they believe in?

They believe in India as a Hindu Rashtra, or Hindu nation. (Well, they also once believed in the assassination of Gandhi, and one of their ex-members actually killed Gandhi, but we’ll reserve that story for later. Does Obama know? He should.)

BTW, just to make sure everybody understands, I am a Hindu myself, and actually unlike many of my lefty friends, I am neither a communist nor a Hindu-basher. I identify quite well with my Hinduism.

Q. (3) How can we compare RSS with a similar organization in other countries?

In USA, you can perhaps compare them with the Christian Coalition or Tea Party. In Bangladesh, they are perhaps comparable to Jamat-e-Islami. In France, perhaps, Le Pen’s National Front.

Modi, a lifelong member of the militant RSS. This is a fact. And they are proud of it too.
Modi, a lifelong member of the militant RSS. This is a fact. And they are proud of it. (Modi, however, does not dawn those khaki half pants no mo.)

No? National Front is a political organization, and RSS is not? Okay. So, RSS has its political organization too. It’s called BJP, or Bharatiya Janata Party, or Indian People’s Party. They are now in power in India. And Modi is their elected leader.

Q. (4) What are the similarities for these various groups?

Basically, the similarities across these groups globally are: (1) Religious and racial supremacy; (2) Anti-immigrant politics; (3) Strong anti-socialism views; (4) Exclusionist nationalistic economy; (5) Anti-labor union; (6) Anti-gender-equality; and (7) Emphasis on military might. There are more, but we’ll stop for now.

Well, Narendra Modi is now very willing to be a close partner of the mighty U.S. economy, and U.S. of course is delighted that the Indian government is now even more willing than ever before to sell off its economy to U.S. corporations. India’s new finance minister Arun Jaitley, also a hardcore RSS member, has already slashed India’s already-dismal health care subsidies for the poor, and proposed sell-off of massive amounts of Indian land to foreign corporations. This is all, supposedly, to comply with IMF and World Bank dictates.

So, Modi, who was indicted of a bloody, communal riot in the state of Gujarat in 2002 (that saw a massive slaughter of poor Muslims), and thus denied a U.S. visa then, is now a very lovable, huggable, dear bedfellow.

I once wrote a book on RSS, BJP and their philosophies and politics and grassroots organizing. I wrote it from an insider point of view.

Hope you look it up.

Signing off for now (with a deep, frustrated sigh),

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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Beware, and read that history book!
Beware, and read that history book!