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Garba Mana Hain

By Manasi Gandhi

14 September, 2014

"One swallow doesn't make a summer" is the response given by BJP
spokesperson Jay Narayan Vyas to the statement made by Madhya Pradesh
BJP vice president and MLA, Usha Thakur, seeking a ban on entry of
Muslim youths in 'garba' in MP, during the festive navratri. She has
come out with 11 point guidelines, which consist of checking the voter
ids of the youth trying to enter the garba pandal . There are also
guidelines on the 'dress code' for girls, decent to be precise, to
defend themselves from the so called 'love jihad'.

Festivals in India seldom have been restricted to religion. They have
always been a celebration of life, a reason to smile, enjoy, dance.
Navratri is one such festival, where people gather around Goddess
Durga, and dance to the beats of 'garba' over nine nights. Nobody in
the history of this festival has restricted entry to people on the
basis of religion. Nobody has paused and questioned who is the music
director of the song "Dholi taro.." (Ismail Durbar, film 'Hum Dil De
Cuke Sanam') before dancing to its tunes.

Recently there have been limitations on the timings of the garba for
security reasons. But nobody has sent out diktats on the clothes women
should be wearing on this occasion, which in essence is a celebration
of femininity, expressed in the form and spirit of Maa Durga.

What has changed? Article 15 of the Indian Constitution gives the
right to equality, irrespective of religion, race, caste, sex or place
of birth. How can a sitting MLA then come out with such hokum?. Why is
the BJP looking the other way? Is it deliberate attempt, though not
official, to divide people for vote dividends in the upcoming
by-elections to be held in various parts of India.

Where did this term 'love jihad' come from? It is said that it
originated in the state of Karnataka somewhere around 2009,
furthered by the Hindu Janajagruti
Samiti and others. They made allegations of large scale conversions of
girls to Islam, through wrongful means, which were later found
baseless. Recently the term is being polished and shined mainly in the
state of UP, by various Hindutva fringe elements as well as some
office bearers of BJP.

Is it not an insult to the intellect of the woman, that she will fall
prey to intentional overtures by men of a 'certain community'. And
even if one assumes that women are vulnerable(beware, they are not),
how is it the propriety of only women of a certain 'other' community.
Besides, how does one check the authenticity of these claims in the
current context. Definitely not on the basis of Tara Shahadeo case or
the Meerut incident, which themselves are in question. Crimes against
women happen in every community. One specific community cannot be
singled out.

When one thinks only 'love' was overrated, on which scale can 'love
jihad' be rated. Well they will invent a scale too, in no time, let us
be assured.

Surprisingly a poll taken on one of the TV channels showed that 87%
people agreed with Usha Thakur in restricting Muslim youth from
entering garba pandals. This is a dangerous trend, which has been
evolving recently. Where are we going as a society with such mindsets.

Even if one brushes aside this scaremongering as a one off, something
new crops up everyday. There have been one too many swallows, with the
likes of Yogi Adityanath, Laxmikant Bajpai, Sangeet Singh Som and
others. They are making clowns of themselves. Let us make an humble
request to our PM to stand by the ten year moratorium on communalism
he announced in his robust speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort
on Independence Day, and take action. And let us not lose our sense of

Manasi Gandhi: Teacher in the past and at heart. Currently a mom. Passionate
about the events unfolding in India and the world at large.Post
Graduate Certification in Education from University of Cambridge, UK.
I live in North Carolina, USA with my husband and two kids.



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