Friday, October 12, 2007

The Idea of Secularism

It seems heretical to write about secularism on the day of Eid because we must celebrate inspite of what is happening and has happened during the last two days of Ramazan.

However, what I am writing about is this news item which made me laugh at the religious intolerance in the Islamist country of Kuwait:

"KUWAIT: An 18 year old man was arrested for eating in public during the afternoon. Security sources noted that the man was inside a telephone shop and was eating some sweets and drinking some juice. The employee of the shop caught the man eating and then called the police. The man was then arrested and sent to the Jahra police station where he will be jailed until the end of Ramadan."

It sounded so ridiculous to me that I mentioned it to my dad. As always, my dad had a perfect analogy to explain and justify this seemingly high handed rule. He reminded me of the fact that in India, all the slaughterhouses are closed on major Hindu holidays and it is illegal for anyone to buy/sell meat or poultry that day.

Yes, I remember now that on days of Holi or Rakshabandhan or Janamashtmi, we could not go and get fresh meat from the butcher because there used to be none on those days. Nevertheless, it did not deter us from eating meat on those days. It was only that you could not buy/sell on those days.If you had bought it in advance, nobody could stop you from eating it in your house. The idea behind no-slaughter-days is to respect the feelings of other religious groups on their auspicious days

Similarly in Kuwait, the law expects you to respect those who are fasting and therefore it prohibits anyone from eating in public during daytime in Ramazan. However, you can eat as much as you want to in the privacy of your own house or any restaurant any time of the day. They only expect you to do some ehteraam of the fasting populace.

So, to say that India is a secular country and everybody has the freedom his own religion is not entirely true. Nonetheless, it has to be understood that living in a multi-religious environment does introduces some situations where all involved have to give-up something in order to gain from each other.

The sheerkhurma of every Eid reminds me of the ten different types of sweets which I used to stuff myself with on Diwali. And I am sure my feelings are reciprocated.

Eid Mubarak!!


neha said...

it is gud

shruti said...

u started with expressing ridicule, however u ended justifying it.
but as i reflect, i feel the challenge is to identify ur personal values and stick to them and let others do the same.