Functioning of a society

Its been quite some time since I got the time to “pen down” my thoughts. More than lack of time I must admit it was lethargy on my part. But I was told yesterday “a busy man finds the time to do things”. That sounds quite right, now that I think of it. When I am idling around, I don’t find things to fill the time but when I am working, I find the time to fill it with things to do!
Quite some food for thought already – isn’t it?
So now that matter of finding the time to write being settled, I would now write what I had been on my mind after having read two articles in a magazine during my journey.
There are two traditions in two completely different states of India, each of which when seen individually will appear to be unique but when seen together one can find the connection.
Now here’s the story.
In West Bengal (I am not sure if it’s only in Kolkata or the whole state), the tradition is that before the idol makers start making the idols of Goddess Durga (for the Durga pooja festival), they have to go and ask for the soil from a prostitute’s doorstep and mix it with the clay used for preparing the idol. Without this “ingredient”, the mixture is not considered complete. And the condition is that it has to be given by the prostitute willingly. Since ages, this has been going on smoothly as the prostitutes considered it an honour to be asked for the dirt of their doorstep. But this year was different – some (or all, I don’t know) of them seemed to have understood something – they refused to give the soil. But since the idols could not be made without this special ingredient, therefore some of the more courageous stealthily went posing as customers and stole it.
Now what was it that these women realized? They realized that this tradition was just there to make them feel somewhat important once a year, while treating them like the scum of the earth for the rest of the time.
The other state featuring in this narrative is Kerala. I got to know that casteism is still very much prevalent there. So the ones belonging to a low caste are not supposed to even sit or raise their heads in the presence of the ones of a higher caste.
Despite all this, once a year, they have a festival called “Theyyam” in which these low caste people dress up and the Gods are supposed to descend upon them. It is thought that the roots of this could be in an ancient tradition which existed before the Aryans took over. And after the Aryans came, they joined in this tradition. During this festival, the tribals (supposedly the low caste people) who play the role of the deity (the deities are supposed to descend on and talk to people via the roleplayer) are the revered ones. Even the Brahmins (the uppermost caste as per the Aryan tradition) come and touch their feet. And these are the same people who are ill-treated the whole year around, who live in poverty and do all kinds of menial tasks to make ends meet.
I think by now you would have guessed the similarity between the two stories – the one from West Bengal and the one from Kerala. The hypocrisy that exists in the society – on one hand it is ruthless in its treatment of those whom it considers lowly (either by profession or by caste) and on the other, it gratifies them once every year so that they have something to feel good about! Something like a reward for staying oppressed the whole year! I don’t understand this as anything else except hypocrisy. Would it not be much better to always treat them as humans as much as anyone else? Or is there a fear that the social setup would fail if this happens?
And I don’t think this happens in these two places only. But I don’t have too much knowledge of other societies (Indian or non-Indian). So I cannot write much on this.
Let’s see how many more years would it take for other oppressed ones to understand the trick the society plays on them, like the women in Kolkata understood. Until then, as they say “Ignorance is bliss”.


2 thoughts on “Functioning of a society

  1. Wise observation; simply written – yet interesting view of society. . I liked it.

    Even if these ‘oppressed’ understand, this kind of disparity in society (the oppression itself) would prevail on this earth as long as the so-called society exists. For the oppression to be uprooted from the society, the very society has to be re-built.
    I have another interesting example : In Congo during civil war (around 2004), pygmies were hunted down and eaten by people because they were considered sub-humans!!-The then Pygmy chief unlike his father and forefathers understood that this is cruel and inhuman and raised this injustice to the UN—result nothing done-still they are being hunted for pretty much the same reason:(. We are talking 2004: age of computers and ultimate human advancement- AND humans killing humans—I think we need another one good evolution –from human into another superior life form to stop all this—because we humans can never ever live in complete social harmony, as a society with other humans—we always look for differences- differences in occupation, caste, color and thousand other similar shit.


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