Why religious violence forces us to consider our own traditions

A the sweltering Saturday night brought news of the nation’s capital being put on red alert. Parts of Jahangirpuri northwest of Delhi reported acute violence between two communities; the genesis being attributed to communal insults hurled by one at the other, according to some field reports. Since then, three separate cases of riots have been triggered through different states – Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka – where processions to mark the Hindu festival of Hanuman Jayanti were carried out.

There is a heavy unease in the political and social corridors. The most recent eruption can be identified as the anti-muslim hate speech by extreme Hindutva followers during Ram Navmi celebrations. Today a religious holiday has turned into bloody bloodshed, death and displacement of communities that already bear the burden of the majority bigotry.

In recent months, if not years, religious celebrations have turned into amorphous projects aimed both at assimilating more people into Hinduism while demonizing minority communities as “the other”. In this incendiary passage of hate, people have to come to terms with how they view religious observances – and even celebrate them.

This is an important question to ask. Because in the pursuit of commitment to a larger ideal and participation in a wave of “festivities,” how complicit do people become in advancing targeted terror and hatred?

Moreover, who has everything to gain from an ethno-religious conflict? A knee-jerk response – as sad as that reality may be – is the cadre of politicians and leaders who feed on polarization. There is also ground evidence to support this; a 2014 study showed that the ruling BJP ended up performing better in the polls after each riot. Indeed, the riots produce an ethnic polarization that benefits ethno-religious parties. And if Congress had lost every election between 1962 and 2000, there would have been 10% more cases of violence in the country.

It is the human instinct to protect and defend our ideals, especially when they unite us as a community. “People are embraced or condemned according to their beliefs, so a function of the mind may be to have beliefs that bring the belief holder the greatest number of allies, protectors, or followers, rather than beliefs which are most likely to be true,” as Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker Put the.

As an all-consuming force, celebrations and traditions sit in a sacrosanct place of human belief. They cement individual and collective identity; give people purpose; unite people in pursuit of any ideology. These processions and marches are undoubtedly a display of people’s beliefs. And if this were a world where religion was not a springboard for violence, these resounding events would exist harmlessly.

Yes is the key word here.

Related to The Swaddle:

What Delhi’s anti-Muslim chants can teach us about ‘ethnic overkill’

In the case of the Jahangirpur violence reported on Saturday, “the crowd with Bajrang Dal members came out of the mosque and tried to wave the saffron flag there. They were also dancing to loud music,” according to to a neighborhood resident. The violence at yatra even incited Bharatiya Janata Party politician Kapil Mishra – who is also linked to violence in 2020 Delhi riots — for say: “[Bangladeshi infiltrators] should be identified and their homes bulldozed. During Ram Navami celebrations last week, violence was reported in all states; several processions involved people playing anti-Muslim music and making inflammatory speeches.

In other words, what anchors some celebrations is the blatant hatred towards another community.

“Understanding the truth of a situation is important, but so is remaining a member of a tribe. While these two desires often work well together, they sometimes conflict,” Pinker added. that these events are designed to wake people up and threaten the safety of a community; they may still be reluctant to actively voice their disagreement. In most cases, however, the instinct is to believe it is the other community that got it wrong; the other community called to arms and inflicted violence. No wonder Saturday’s violence is downplayed in the media to a “they said-they said” story.

How we fit into the cultural fabric could then be apprehended psychologically as much as it is the product of our social ideals. This complicates our relationship to truth and violence in an increasingly polarizing climate.

Truth exists as a downside today. The agenda of celebrations, meant to uphold people’s ideals and fulfill their desires, is dynamically changing. This begs the question: what is the cost of our accepting and participating in displays of hate?

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