(Warning: Am writing this piece sipping on loads of extra strong beer, so if this sounds like an emotional jerk-off, it probably is.)
I am often accused of being fanatically pseudo secular, and truth be told, am quite proud of this tag. Every time I hear a Hindu friend is marrying a Muslim or a Christian or a Bawa or vice versa, I feel elated. Not because I consider myself to be a flag bearer of India’s alleged secularism, but because I have come to the conclusion that the religion-busting friend of mine may be helping in her/his small way in sorting out a very serious global problem.
It’s a no brainer that Mother Earth’s greatest bete noire, the root of terror, is the religious divide, which seems to be deepening with every passing day. Once, on the night of bomb blasts in Mumbai, after a few Patiala pegs, a few of us friends decided the best way out is for the world to divide itself into three hemispheres, based on major religions, and then to live and let live thereafter. Once the nasha came down, we realised how regressive such a step would be, and that it isn’t workable either. We’ll simply find a different set of enemies to wage wars against. In the Hindu hemisphere, the ‘upper castes’ would continue their strife with the ‘lower castes’, and in the Islamic zone, the Shias and the Sunnis will be doing ditto, and so on.
Which then brings me to the point: perhaps the best way ahead is we totally do away with all religious divides, build a world where we hate each other for things like snoring, bitching, honking, spitting, whatever, but not over the gods we chose to pray. And we can only arrive at that future, even if it takes hundreds of years to get there, if we marry outside our own communities today. As people mingle and mate freely, with time, religion will become an irrelevant factor.
The bad news, of course, is that this isn’t going to happen in a hurry. Even today, in highly educated wealthy households of urban India, we see a raging desire to marry ‘within our own’. The newspapers are full of reports of crimes against ‘defectors’, and a cursory look at matrimonial ads would tell you how utopian and crazy the thought is.
So, yes, I am daydreaming, I did warn you about the beer. But one thing’s for sure: to all those of you choosing to break the divide, even if you harbour no noble desires of changing the world, and are marrying for love, lust, money, whatever, my salutations. Cheers!