Regulate them

How Secular Are Our Religious Institutions?

Dr. Quleen Kaur Bijral
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jul 16 2018 12:09AM | Updated Date: Jul 16 2018 12:09AM
Regulate themFile Photo

How secular are we? We ask each other this question now and then. We do not have to believe in each other’s faith but yes respect is paramount for a peaceful society. 

Certainly then, this question should be asked to keep our Prejudices, Bigotry, Discrimination, and Intolerance in check. 

Now there is yet another very important question that should be repeatedly asked  - how secular are our religious institutions? 

Religion in its unadulterated form unanimously attacks hate, violence and prejudice of any kind. It wholeheartedly advocates for Peace, Love and Brotherhood. Beautiful isn’t it? 

But what about our religious institutions? Are they secular? Do they respect other religions?

Most importantly, are these institutions upholding civic sense? Do they respect the peace, comfort and rights of the public? Are they ethically civic?

The answer is a blatant No. 

Loud speakers in the houses of worship harass the word of God into our homes. 

Public religious processions disrupt the already sensitive traffic situation on the streets. 

Religious gatherings where anti-society, anti-national and other hate-filled debates are held.

Religious structures in India are mostly not civic-minded.  They cause disruption of normal public life with loud ceremonies, rituals, and festivals which are meant for a few but imposed on all. Instead of conducting a peaceful function for those who wish to participate, these religious carnivals, fairs and gatherings are forced down the throat of each and every citizen. 

As most of us are secular, we firstly do not object to this breach of civic sense. Even when we do, our objection is treated as a matter of intolerance. So the objection is surrendered while the religious institutions very righteously and boldly play with the patience of the public. 

India, as a land of diversity, needs to confine its religious and cultural rituals to only those who wish to participate than inflicting it on the society as whole.  

 Many times unofficial complaints are made:

How loud ceremonies amplified by loudspeakers disrupt the studies of the students living in the vicinity of the houses of worship. 

How those who are convalescing or are not well are highly disturbed by it. 

Public life comes to a standstill which adds to the anxiety, stress and hassle faced by the society at large.

Urgently then, it is important for the sake of civic sense that:

Religious music, gatherings and processions are contained in the area of worship and executed only for those who wish to participate. Please do not disrupt the public life. 

Vitriolic speeches made by religious leaders need to be checked and objected to.

Rules should be applied on every religious institution instead of singling out one and letting others go scot free. 

Apprehend the vicious competitive spirit among the religious institutions when they raise their own music so the music of the other institution is dampened. In this fierce battle of worship, the public is at a grievous loss. 

As a collective effort, this issue needs to be addressed lest this war of the worship houses further damages the secular as well as civic sense of the society.

The cardinal point of religion is to bestow the light of inner-peace. Serenity. Calmness. Tranquillity. Peaceful Self-realization. Peaceful spiritual communion. Peaceful remembrance of God. Not drum-rolling Noise. Sloganeering Hate. Forced preaching. And so on. 

It is high time, sensible and logical steps are taken to address this issue eating away the secular as well as civic fabric of our country. High time, indeed. 

 

  (Dr. Quleen Kaur Bijral (Ph.D.) is Assist. Prof IIT Jammu)

 

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