Wednesday, October 1, 2008

And, Eid Mubarak

This time of the year when Mumbai becomes a wonderland – Ganapathy, Ramadhan, Navratri, Diwali, Christmas- the festivals follow in quick succession. Sometimes, I wonder if the strings of fairy lights that form a canopy over the streets are even taken down between festivals. The way to tell them apart is from the colour of the flags that interspace rows of lights – orange for Ganapathy, green for Ramadhan, multi-coloured festoons for Navratri,
This year, I noticed there were far fewer green flags on public display than the previous year, but I really did not give too much thought to it. Today’s paper gave me the answer to my unformulated question – the All India Muslim Front had appealed to all Muslims to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr with austerity and to wear black bands or black caps to condemn the recent spate of bombings in the country.
One part of me rejoiced at the foresight of the leaders of the organisation – some Muslims are responsible for the bombings, so all Muslims are terrorists is the convenient opinion of most people in the country. What better way to prove to the country that the majority of Muslims shun violence than by toning down the celebrations of your most important festival?
As an individual, I am tired of having to continuously wonder where the next bomb blast is going to take place, to have my eyes constantly flitting about to locate potential bombs. But equally, I am tired of having an entire community being blamed for something perpetuated by a few individuals. I am proud of the Muslim leadership for demonstrating their true position in such a strong manner.
But, as a member of the majority community, I am also ashamed at demanding that the Muslims make this sacrifice to prove their non-violent credentials. Why should an eight-year old Muslim girl be deprived of a chance to show off her brand new lehanga to appease people who choose not to think for themselves? Why should a Muslim household not partake of a full Eid spread, merely because a country chooses to be moronic?
In the past, Ahmedabad had not, out of consideration for the people who lost so much during the Gujarat riots, toned down its festivities while celebrating Navratri. Civic and religious leaders had, in fact, justified the ostentatious celebrations by arguing that participating in the festivities would help the riot affected people heal faster.
Why then, should the Muslims have to tone down their celebrations to prove that they do not support the creed of violence?
The Muslims should not have to do it, but they are doing it, and I hope all Indians get the message they want sent out – that it is individuals who are responsible for the bombings, not the community as a whole.
By the same token, I wonder if any of the Hindu leaders would even consider asking Hindus to tone down Diwali celebrations to condemn the violence against Christian missionaries in the country.
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