I’ve been reading endlessly about atrocities that are committed in the name of culture in India today, and have been watching some ridiculous debates on Indian culture on television and they’ve descended to the level of comedy and ludicrousness. Day after day, we have the so-called moral custodians of our society take charge and mouth puerile arguments on Indian culture on our behalf. I’m probably going to be trolled endlessly on social media for this post, but I have to say it! I am a very ordinary citizen of this country and I say Enough is Enough!

We live today in the hypocritical world of Article 377, moral policing, ban on certain kinds of clothing (only for women), and cruelty in the form of vigil on courting couples in parks. We are scared of the culture vultures who profess to know everything, but probably prefer to think that storks brought them home, and their parents didn’t indulge in ‘dirty’ sex!

We need to face a few home truths. And we need to face them regardless of how unpalatable they are for those who think Indian culture is about denying that life is about love and relationships.  We also need to face that love is not a sterile and monotonously colourless emotion. Love is all about deriving joy from the loveliest part of being alive – the pleasures of relationships. It begins with the utter joy of touch, feel and warmth and goes on to lasting bonds that keep society healthy and growing.

I cringe every time a transgender is harassed in the name of culture, or a couple in love is hounded for improper behaviour. This is such a deviation from the time when our predecessors had joyously celebrated love and diversity – as is evident from the walls of temples, or on the gopuras above the entrances. A search on Google for ‘erotic temple frescoes in India’ for the purpose of this article, turned up 1000s of images in

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Pic Source: Google Images

seconds.This demonstrated with undeniable proof that our ancestors had their priorities sorted out. They were creative; they excelled in the arts, in academics, in spirituality, and just about all areas. But they also revelled in the pleasures of life and living, and even documented them on temple walls, thus giving it religious sanctity!

I refuse to be conned into believing that merely speaking to or calling upon a God as Kunti did when she was a young, unmarried girl resulted in Karna being born. Our epics are replete with stories of virtuous women, truly good women, who chose to cohabit with men other than their husbands in order to beget children. They knew it was required in order to keep their family lines alive. Men from our epics who we hold up as role models, were least apologetic about the fact that they had libidos which functioned normally.

But what do we do? We deny all that glory we should be celebrating; we shut our sensibilities to these realities and live in denial; we shroud these realities in stifling cloaks of culture and morality and judge people on impossible yardsticks.

Am I advocating that India suddenly becomes a permissive society? Am I advocating that all of India forgets that some of the most spiritually uplifting scriptures and philosophies have originated here? NO! I am demanding that we do not misunderstand our ancestors and misinterpret their messages, which were of acceptance and tolerance, and not of misplaced ideas of morality. I’m suggesting that we stay rational, and just and accepting. I’m strongly suggesting that every transgender, every gay person and every other person who is accused of being deviant has many things in common with those considered ‘normal’.

We all have beating hearts, and other vital organs that keep us alive. We are bound by these commonalities that cannot be wished away. We all feel pain, both physical and mental and this is the only thing that must be considered. Everything else is immaterial. Respect is the only emotion that is relevant. It’s time we understood this and lived it! Go on you trolls, come and get me! I’m waiting!

Bharathi Ghanashyam

 

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