Thursday, May 31, 2007

Photoshopping as Worship.

Life sure is getting funnier and funkier by the day. The old Irani bakery, Sassanian, opposite the Gol Masjid, close to Liberty and Metro, where I go to buy crispy and delectable mutton and chicken puffs twice a week or so, has started calling itself a Boulangerie of late. I find it as pretentious if not pernicious as the recent propensity of the Bollywoodians and journalists to add the ‘Mr’ tag before Amitabh Bachchan. Nobody does that to Tom Hanks, Robert de Niro, even Paul Newman in Hollywood, for Pete's sake. I’m dreading the day when the credits in an AB-starrer start using the ‘Mr’ tag before his name. Indians seem to have mastered the art of morphing admiration for a movie star, a sportsperson, a politician into worshipful obsession. A daily example are the ads released by government departments with VVIP and VIP photographs. The recent news story about the Vasundhara Raje Scindia qua Goddess Annapurna poster is an apt case in point. That this work of art is the brainchild of a BJP MLA and a local priest is an especially illuminating clue. Both have a vested interest in the Hindu pantheon. Equally illuminating is the fact that Vasundhara Raje who only last year was caught on camera smooching or being smooched by Biocon India Chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has also to her credit a fan-inspired poster depicting her as Goddess Durga as well as a batisha, a chalisa (32 and 40 worshipful couplets respectively) and an aarti. (The most famous chalisa, of course, is the one dedicated to Lord Hanuman. It is significant that one of the couplets in it claims that Hanuman’s worship is the one-stop route to Lord Rama’s worship.) Those who object to the Annapurna poster saying that it hurts their religious sentiments ought to remember that Hinduism isn’t strictly a religion but a tolerant way of life. The seemingly bizarre behaviour of the worshippers seamlessly fits into it. Don’t’ forget too that most gods ultimately reveal their feet of clay, as several recent examples show.

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