Saturday, October 02, 2010

Bithoor and some notes on the Ayodhya matter

I am sure you must have heard about the Ayodhya verdict - one which has attempted to resolve a long standing dispute between Hindus & Muslims about the Ram Janmabhoomi/Babri Masjid site. Thankfully enough, the verdict was considered fair enough that all the parties have maintained civility and peace in a nation not so well know for civility.

But, do you know Bithoor? Bithoor is a small village of purportedly great significance to Hindus - it is believed that Lord Brahma sat there and created the universe and hence it is considered the "center of universe" or Brahmavarta. Unless you studied in IITK, which is incidentally located close enough to Bithoor and located far enough from almost all other places resembling recreation, and hence forced to visit it over a bicycle ride or a scooter ride (as my parents did when they came to visit me at IITK after borrowing it from my senior Vaibhav Krishna), there is little chance you might have heard about it.

Apart from the religious significance, there is also some historical significance, specially in association with India's freedom struggle with stays by Rani Lakshmi Bai and Baji Rao Peshwa II during their attempts to free the country. So, one would assume that it would be a well maintained tourist and religious attraction, right? Of course not.

The last I visited it, it was in total shambles with little or no maintenance. Nobody (ASI or the Hindu Mahasabha) had promoted it or bothered to put up informational signs. The way to reach there from say the nearest railway station or airport was extremely chaotic. The Ganges, which flows by it is as dirty as you can expect it to be after it accepts the dirtiest and most polluted by-products of human inhabitation and that inhabitation's attempt to survive through industries which are inconsiderate to everything except short term survival.

Bithoor is but one example of such neglected places. Try taking a bath in the Ganges at Haridwar (the last I attempted it in 1998 left me with skin rashes for 6 months) or try staying hygienic in one of the other places of Hindu pilgrimage and you will know what I mean.

The Hindu Mahasabha has spent tons of money and time to fight out the Ayodhya case, and still, has little inclination to improve such places. Why? Just because there is a dispute with Muslims, Ram Janmabhoomi is more important than other places of worship? You probably guess where I am going here. Ayodhya isn't about religions, but it is about politicians. Ayodhya isn't about worship, but about the hunt for power. It is just a means for firing up the emotions of countless Hindus and Muslims, even sacrificing a few at the altar, just so that certain others can either gain or hold power.

And just to complete the picture, if you believe that this politicizing is only at the Hindu end, think twice. I am sure there are Masjids around the country being neglected as money was poured by the Waqf board to fight for the Babri Masjid.

Such is our society. And unfortunately, apart from declining to participate in the hypocrisy, there is little else you, and I, can do.

Administrative note

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