The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution of India enacted in 1976 amended the Preamble to assert that India was a secular nation. This meant that the State would not mingle with religious sentiments regarding its affairs, and all religious communities would be subjected to equal rights and laws. Yet the reality remains starkly different. In India, there is no universally applicable code of law; the concept of Personal Laws for Islamic communities prevails giving rise to many social problems like child marriage, polygamy and unequal inheritance laws.
On the other hand, the recent upsurge of Hindu right-wing politics in the Hindu majority nation has led to strife and discord. The issue of cow protectionism and beef ban has been particularly potent; there is an increasing number of incidents of cow vigilantism and murder of suspected beef eaters in various parts of the country.
The cow, being demarcated a holy animal by Hinduism, the central government has been considering passing laws to declare a nationwide ban on cow slaughter and consumption of beef, and this after several states already have a ban on beef eating in place. The tenets of secularism are taken for a ride as majoritarian fundamentalism gains ground.
What would society be like if catering to religious sentiments by the state becomes a common trend? What if the government took it into its head to start banning anything that was deemed remotely restricted in any religious community?
Chilly Pork at Sikkim House will have to go.
Beef ban throughout the country may very well be a reality in the short run. Vegetarianism in general is promoted by Hinduism. Pork is considered sinful by Muslims. Ritualistic meat is a strict no-no for Sikhs. The Jains on the other hand look down upon eggs and seafood too. So maybe a blanket ban on consumption of all animal and fish should be considered – never mind that the Bengali community may run the risk of extinction out of heartbreak.
Cow piss will replace Old Monk.
Alcohol and tobacco products would have to go too; Sikhism looks down upon smoking while alcohol is taboo in Islam, Sikhism and Jainism. Don’t let the stereotypical jolly drunken Sikh uncle fool you, he is sinning against his religion. And who cares about the Christian practice of the Eucharist. No holy wine for the devotees of Christ anymore, they are hurting the religious sentiments of four different communities.
Onions, potatoes, carrots, the list doesn’t stop there.
While we are at it, a number of other food items will have to be done away with. Some Hindu communities look down upon onion and garlic as non-vegetarian, so off they go from the list of permissible food. Jainism recommends giving up root vegetables – onions and potatoes, carrots and white yams and even ginger and brinjals. That is not all; Jainism also advocates avoiding dairy products like cheese and cream, and honey is completely vetoed. Now imagine your normal daily meals bereft of all these items. Yummy, right?
Midnight munchies who?
Jainism forbids eating after sundown, so dinner will have to be banned. Both Jainism and Hinduism are against eating stored and refrigerated food. Jainism also prohibits drinking unfiltered water (no living organism should be harmed). Go ahead and place bans on all these practices, because the vast section of the Indian population that lives in perpetual unrelenting poverty and cannot dream of affording a water purifier or throwing away leftover foods doesn’t count!
No make-up, no leather jackets, and no gold.
So much for dietary bans. Coming to sartorial habits, silk and leather have to be banned in keeping with Jainism’s policy of not causing harm. In Islam, wearing gold is forbidden for men. I wonder how Indians with their millennium old lust for gold will react to a ban on all gold jewellery. All cosmetic industries will have to be shut down of course; Islam strictly prohibits its women from beautifying themselves with products or cosmetic services at tattoo parlours and beauty salons. (PETA smiles in a corner)
Forget the next visit to your favourite parlour.
Even haircuts will have to be banned since both Islam and Sikhism forbids it. So mothers take note, your son is showing concern for religious sentiments when he insists on growing out his hair despite looking like a bedraggled caveman. Islam grudgingly allows plastic surgery for strictly medical purposes, but maybe ban that as well because what if some woman sneakily gets a nose alignment correction treatment? Won’t the community be scandalised?
What about Kosher?
Forget jellies, candies, marshmallows and trifle. Gelatin based edibles are primarily regarded as Non-Kosher food. The religious sentiments of the 5000+ strong Jewish community in India must not be overlooked.
Talking of women, the number of prohibitions regarding the gender is frankly alarming. In Hinduism, widowed women are forbidden from doing most ordinary daily activities. They are prohibited from entering the crematorium. Menstruating women are barely allowed to breathe, there are so many prohibitions they have to follow. Formal bans could be enacted for each of these, or maybe the existence of women should be banned altogether just to save time.
Arranged Marriage – 1 Love Marriage – 0
Brahmanical Hinduism prohibits interreligious marriages and inter-caste marriages. Strangely, it also prohibits marrying within the same caste or ‘gotra’. Islamic women are not allowed to marry non-Islamic men.
Oppress the homosexuals.
I’m a simple religious man. I see homosexuals, and I persecute them.
Let’s not even get into the details of what Islamic, Jewish and Christian texts have to say regarding homosexuality. But strangely, this is one subject over which all the mainstream religions agree upon – find gays, and oppress them. Islam even suggests the harshest of treatments for them. Ancient Hinduism had always been pretty accomodating in its treatment of the LGBTQ people. The Brahmanical supremacism has changed things quite a bit.
Sex… what bro?
Dating and pre-marital sex are prohibited by Brahmanical supervised Hinduism. Adultery is a sin in Christianity, Islam and Sikhism. Ahead with bans on all of this, because we do not have enough incidents of honour killing and domestic violence and dysfunctional families already.
Forget the dance on ‘Bhashaan’.
Islam prohibits idol worship, so essentially a ban on all Hindu religious practices is in order. Islam also prohibits depiction of the human form, so apart from children’s dolls and religious idols, biology textbooks should also be brought under the ban.
Organ donation is forbidden in Hinduism, so it must go. After all, medical practices cannot supersede the importance of religious sentiments, can they?
Sikhism is strictly against non-family oriented living, so yogis, nuns and monks, beggars and celibates will have to be banned. The priestly classes will have to be banned as well, also in keeping with Sikh prohibitions.
All of us would like this to be implemented though.
Creature sacrifices too would have to suffer bans, in accordance with Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism. How are things looking for traditional Hindu practices so far?
Bollywood goes out of business.
All music for enjoyment will have to go, because Islam is strictly against it. Sikhism condemns ‘worthless talk’ like gossip and slander. A ban on these might have to come with mouth gags. Bid your lovely canine family member goodbye, because pet dogs will have to suffer a ban too to conform to Islamic tenets.
Once these bans are in place, the religious sentiments of all these groups may be soothed. Of course, human lives may become unbearably restricted and rates of crime and depression and suicide may skyrocket, but who cares? Surely these are small prices to pay when you can keep the ‘Almighty’ happy in the process? Right?