Two images sum up the times in which we are living these days. One of a man forced by the apathy of hospital staff and locals to carry the body of his dead wife in Odisha’s Kalahandi district, the other of ‘Govindas’ backed by Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) defying Supreme Court order to celebrate Dahi Handi festival in Mumbai.
The contrasting images tell us at least three things: a) One shows that the poor can be forced to do anything in this country, the other proves people can spend lakhs of rupees to enjoy something that can even take their lives. b) One shows there can’t be any compromise even if one has to defy the law of the land for the sake of politics, the other shows no politics can help the poor when they need it the most. c) Dahi Handi is good for politics, for it is associated with religion, not the apathy of officials and society.
The contrasting images also have a unique connection — poverty. The images prove that poor people go to any extent, sometimes even risk their lives (like in the Dahi Handi festival in Mumbai) for a prize, or to take care of the people they love, even if they are dead. I am certain that Raj Thackeray will never himself like to climb the scary human pyramid on any day. The rest must continue to do so.
Incidentally, this day is celebrated as the day of Earthly appearance of Lord Krishna by Hindus across the world. The same god whose story tells us that he could have gone to any extent to help a poor man and save the law of the land.
While news like the plight of Kalahandi’s Dana Majhi is a regular thing in our lives that provide us with an opportunity to show off our concern for fellow humans, Dahi Handi comes once in a year. How can we miss the celebrations? Another Majhi may come tomorrow!