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.

How BJP Comes to Power in West Bengal

RSS BJP

A step-by-step scenario.

An analysis by me, a former, longtime member (and leader) of RSS and ABVP.
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-Part 1.-

BJP in power in West Bengal? Are you kidding me? You might say.

But no, I’m not kidding you. I’m serious about it.

It was unthinkable just a few years ago that BJP, Hindu fundamentalist party, will have so much influence in West Bengal, a state that has had a long history of progressive, secular movements. It was unthinkable that BJP will come to power in Assam, a state similar to Bengal with a Muslim population of 34 percent. If Assam can have a BJP government now (they just won the elections there), why can’t they do it in West Bengal — in five or ten years?

It is entirely possible, and I’m telling you how.

Bengalis have seen a bloody partition that divided the nation forever, gone through another traumatic war in 1971 that gave rise to the sovereign country of Bangladesh, and witnessed horrific Hindu-Muslim violence that has killed and displaced millions; yet they pledged to live in harmony, rejecting hate and religious extremism.

BJP RSS

Even when Bangladesh, the other side of partitioned Bengal, has seen mass exodus of Hindus since the 1947 partition, and West Bengal has seen a rapid rise of its Muslim population, both sides of the border have done their best to keep their societies united. Religion-based riots have practically not happened in West Bengal in the last half a century; even the 1992 Babri Mosque demolition that swept India with communal violence and massive bloodshed was not able to cause major violence in Calcutta and elsewhere in the state. Major credit goes to the left, progressive and secular movements and their administrations that have kept West Bengal and its Hindus, Muslims, Christians and atheists safe.

Although I never belonged to a communist party, I must give credit to the left parties, then in power, for sustaining this peace and calm.

Hinduism in West Bengal, unlike many others parts of India, has rejected fundamentalism and social chauvinism. Islam in Bangladesh has forcefully rejected the Mullah dictates from Saudi Arabia and moved polar opposites of violent and oppressive social doctrines. Although we never hear on mainstream media here in the U.S., Muslims in Bangladesh have created a gender-equal society, through progressive social movements and science-based education. People are religious in rural areas, and many atheists live in mostly urban areas, but none of them condone violence and extremism.

Unfortunately, the landscape is fast changing. Fanatics and fundamentalists have gained ground on both sides of Bengal: Islamic extremists such as Jamat and Hindu extremists such as RSS have gained political mileage in recent years. Jamat has their political operatives in major parties including the ruling Awami League to a lesser extent and opposition BNP and Jatiya Party to a greater extent. Likewise, RSS has their own political wing BJP that is now in national power in Delhi; their many social fronts have mushroomed across the state of West Bengal.

RSS march

RSS, unlike common knowledge, is the parent organization that was founded back in 1925 by a Hindu chauvinist doctor in the conservative state of Maharashtra. My father has been a lifelong, hardcore believer of the organization, and has worked closely with its stalwarts such as former prime minister of India A. B. Vajyapee, L. K. Advani, et al. My father Jitendra Nath Banerjee sacrificed his college education to work full time with RSS, and was jailed after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948 (a member of RSS killed Gandhi, and the new Indian government banned the organization). He came to West Bengal in 1951 after being released; RSS leaders sent him to Calcutta as a party whole timer or “pracharak.”

I became involved with the organization when I was six years old. I left them when I was about twenty two, out of ideological disillusionment. When I left, I was the West Bengal state secretary of RSS’ student wing ABVP, or Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

I later wrote a book about the umbrella organization and their many fronts. My book “In the Belly of the Beast” was published from Delhi in 1998.

My father was devastated when the book came out. He became very silent, and we do not speak about politics, ever, since then.

He is 92 now, and lives in Calcutta.

(to be continued…)

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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Jamat BD