I touched religious chauvinism and discrimination in my previous post: both its Christian and Hindu varieties. I have seen it on the wall of a very important temple: arya dharmetaranm pravesh varjitah i.e. those other than Hindus not allowed inside. I, with my Hindu identity and name, have been to a Church (It was in Pune, where I took that thin wafer like thing and swallowed it too), a couple of mosques (not during the worship hours) and a Sikh gurudwaara (It was in Delhi, and I had to cover my head with, what I saw as, an unhygienic head scarf).
I don’t think any Church would stop me or anyone from entering. Probably because the very aim of Christianity is to spread the light. The same goes for a gurudwaara, although it does not aim at conversion, at least I have never heard of it. I’m not sure of the mosque as I have never attempted to enter it during namaaz. Why?
I never entered Gyaan Vaapi Mosque in Varanasi, out of fear of some kind. I made up my mind at least twice to enter the grand Jama Masjid of Delhi. The first time, my friend Sitanshu stopped me, and the second time I myself could not muster courage enough. Why? It was an afternoon, like any other afternoon, at around one o’clock. I had planned to enter that grand architectural wonder for the first time in my life while walking towards it. As I reached the pathway that leads to the flight of stairs leading to the main entrance of the mosque, its loudspeakers suddenly came to life. It was the official call to the believers for the afternoon prayer and had nothing to do with me. The moment I heard the call, a chain reaction started in my mind. Several unconscious associations sprung into action after a long time and suddenly I was gripped by the terror that I always feel while facing danger.
The series of “Faith in Kasi” posts deal with religious discrimination and chauvinism, therefore, they must deal with the origin of the same in Kasi. I, like many of my muhalla, grew up in a locality with a very heterogeneous population, religion wise, that was distributed very homogeneously in nearly water tight, although unannounced, religion based habitation belts. There were stereotypes and stories from the past that we were fed as we grew up. The internalization of us-them discrimination was seen as essential by the society, and it was assured that the young ones grew up doing it properly.
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