Last updated: Nov 16, 2019
My mother once asked me:
‘How about organising a “Jagaran?”‘ (a musical night honouring Goddess Durga).
‘Well, that’s a nice idea, but I shall disconnect the loudspeakers as soon as the clock hits ten since speakers are not allowed post 10 pm. The musical group can sing the “Bhajans” and “Bhents” the whole night but without loudspeakers.‘
‘What’s the point of a Jagaran without loudspeakers?’ She protested.
That was a long time back, and since then, she has never discussed Jagarans (at least not with me).
What’s a Jagaran all about?
Praising the gods or playing the loudspeakers?
You see, I didn’t object to the “Bhajans”, I only objected to the usage of loudspeakers after 10 pm, and there’s a difference between the two.
Is “Religiousness” all About Blasting People’s Ears?
Most people assume that playing loudspeakers and worshipping is the same thing.
They are not.
In fact, they’re opposite to each other.
Honouring religious sentiments is about being one with your favourite god or goddess. It’s an intimate relationship with a higher power, it’s personal, and best kept that way. You don’t make personal things public by announcing them on a loudspeaker, right?
Then why torture people with deafening noise in the name of religious sentiments?
“Chhath Puja” and Vulgar Dance
Recently, there was a Chhath Puja celebration in our neighbourhood. The venue is a government land: encroached, and being used for Chhath Puja since the last couple of years. Initially, people celebrated Chhath Puja the way it’s supposed to—in a peaceful manner. It was a beautiful sight to see men and women praying to Suryadev and offering “Arghya.”
But, from the very next year, things turned ugly.
A wannabe leader hijacked the whole concept of Chhath Puja. He collected money and arranged for a “cultural programme.” The so-called cultural programme was nothing but a shameless display of how low one can stoop to steer a political boat.
An Interesting Fact about the Venue
It’s interesting to note that leaders of most of the political parties visit the venue every year on Chatth Puja, sing praise for “Suryadev”, and pretend to know everything about Bihari culture. Not even once any political leader displayed guts to inform the people that, that Chatth Ghaat is just a makeshift structure, and that the land is for a community centre.
Because doing so will hurt their vote bank.
Now a temple has been constructed on that land, which is expanding every year. We all know that building a temple is a foolproof strategy to encroach any government land in Delhi. The concerned authorities are aware of the encroachment, but they’re silent. Nobody wants to take the risk of hurting “religious sentiments.”
And what about the community centre?
What are you talking about?
Back to the “Cultural Programme”
The cultural programme served indecent and vulgar dance by a group of Bhojpuri dancers. It’s beyond understanding how people can bear such atrocities in the name of religious sentiments?
That was 2012.
Since then, twice a year, the people of the neighbourhood are doomed to bear ridiculously loud music and uncivilised chatter on loudspeakers for 10 to 12 hours straight for three days and nights. The organisers display no concern for the people residing near that illegal Chatth Puja Ghaat, built right in the middle of a residential colony.
On one such Chatth Puja celebrations, the organising committee placed loudspeakers on temporary wooden poles throughout the street. One speaker was right in front of my main gate. I requested the concerned person to get that removed. He assured me.
But, when I got home in the evening, the loudspeaker was still there.
I once again approached the concerned person and inquired; he started abusing me.
Seeing his rude behaviour, I decided to call the police when my mother warned me that doing so could hurt religious sentiments. She said, ‘It’s just a one-day affair. You shouldn’t be obstructing religious functions’ (actually, it’s a 3-day event).
I argued that I was not against any religious sentiment at all. I was opposing the placement of a particular loudspeaker because the ridiculously loud sound shall disturb the whole house.
But who can make “religious” people understand logic?
That night, songs that were nothing but vulgar and obscene, and had nothing to do with Chatth Puja or religion, were played till 3 in the morning.
And again the next day from 2 pm to 12 at night and then the next day from early in the morning (3:30 am to 9 am).
Three days of continuous torture, all because of vote-bank politics.
My mother is a migraine patient, and she had to bear a horrible headache for the next 20 days because of religious sentiments that went “unchecked.”
Is this what religiousness all about? Disturbing the people of a residential area all night long with loudspeakers to fulfil someone’s political ambition?
Heck, are loudspeakers legally allowed in residential areas, at all?
Religious Sentiments, Loudspeakers, and Police
Now let’s talk a little about the police’s attitude in handling such “delicate” issues.
The logic is: the police can do nothing about the menace of loudspeakers unless people complain. And it sounds reasonable. How would the police know somebody is playing loudspeakers unless they received a complaint?
But then how the police get to know the exact location when a house owner tries to add even a brick to his bathroom?
The “law-keepers” reach the “scene of the crime” promptly and ask the house owner to come to a “mutual understanding.”
Does the police has satellite surveillance in action to track “illegal” constructions? If yes, then what stops it from keeping track of loudspeakers, or is the satellite yet not capable of tracking down such cases?
Dwarka sub-city is hardly 2 kilometres away from the area. I once had a word with a lady from Dwarka, who revealed that no one complains to police about loudspeakers in their locality. Police officers come on their own and ask the organisers of “Chatth Puja” or “Jagaran” or any such religious function to stop the loudspeakers (after 10 pm). I guess that’s the advantage of living in an authorised colony.
A bunch of police personnel keeps roaming around that illegal Chatth Puja venue for all three days. Isn’t it equivalent to police keeping vigil outside a house where a daylight robbery is taking place so no one can “touch” the robbers?
Such incidents are enough to make one understand why people who go abroad settles there. Who would want to live in a country like India where law-abiding citizens get punished, and violators get rewarded?
So, the argument that the Police does not take action unless someone complains about the loudspeakers holds little to no ground. It depends on where you live (and how “well connected” you are).
And it’s not some remote area of Uttar Pradesh or Chhattisgarh we’re talking about, mind you. It’s the situation in Delhi, the capital of India.
Compare this to the situation in foreign countries, and you shall find an unbelievable contrast.
Isn’t it Time We Started Respecting Rules?
A friend of mine had gone to Denmark to attend a conference. They reached around 5:30 am.
Since the starting time of the conference was around 10:30 am, the host requested them to get some rest. My friend replied, “It’s 5:30 am already. The neighbourhood is about to wake up anytime; there shall be noise all around. What’s the point of getting rest now?” The host replied, “This is not India. No such thing happens here. No noise is allowed before 8:30.”
So, she tried to get some sleep, and when she woke up around 8:40, she could hear the sound of a mixer-grinder from a neighbouring house. Before that, the neighbourhood was peaceful, like anything. That’s the level of people’s willingness to respect the rules.
And, in India, you cannot even ask a temple or a mosque to stop playing loudspeakers because that might hurt their “religious sentiments.” Remember the Sonu Nigam incident?
Surely, you cannot respect religious sentiments without blasting people’s ears: the louder the loudspeakers, the more religious the people.
And it’s not about only one or two residential areas; it’s the story of many localities in Delhi. All that people care about is religious sentiments. And all that politicians care about is how many votes can they gather.
Is there anyone who cares about the common man?
Would You Do Something about the Menace of Loudspeakers?
Are you also planning to organise a “Jagran” when your first child turns one, or when your father gets retired after 35 years of service?
If someone objects to the loudspeakers, will that hurt your religious sentiments? Would you not understand that he’s just trying to get some sleep because he had to go to work the next morning?