Dilution of orthodoxy

In the Indian society, Islam is considered synonymous with orthodoxy. Although there are far more deep-rooted scenarios where orthodoxy is prevalent, this however presents itself in front of us brazenly in the form of attire, food habits, and social behaviour. Although this aid in the stereotyping of muslims, it also makes any changes stand out like a lamp in a dark room.

It was Muharram, a few days back. I had noticed something remarkable, so to put my observation through I started with my friend on the ‘burqa’. Even before I could finish my sentence, he said they come in bright colours these days. Gone are the times, when lady followers of Islam had to choose from their monochrome ‘outdoor’ wardrobes. Now a days you see baby pink, olive green, sky blue, canary yellow and what not. And to add to that the veil is not always down! If you are not blind, you are bound to notice.

Now to come to my original observation, first we have to understand Muharram and what it stands for. In the beginning it was observed as day of rejoicing. But later on it took on the current interpretation of mourning, as observed by the Shi’as. This day is mourned to commemorate the loss of Imam Husayn ibn Ali, a grandson of the Prophet, at the Battle of Karbala. I do not expect some one in mourning to dress up and go out with the family for a night out, say at the nearby KFC. That is exactly what I saw, and not just an isolated case. All around people were enjoying themselves, so much so, that to meet my friends I spent twice the usual on taxi fare because of all the diversions in place! This is incredible, considering how this particular day used to look a few years back. This is definitely a result of ‘dilution of orthodoxy’. This is the right way to take a religious ritual, with respect but not blind faith. Its like optional fasting, observed by choice at one’s convenience not something imposed by force. This stems from the realization that religion serves as the guide and not as the law. I should also mention, in the recent past increasing number of people have sought recourse under the Indian Constitution for family disputes rather than Sharia Law. This definitely is a step in the right direction.

Now lets try to examine what could be the probable reasons behind this. Is it education? Or is it affluence? Or maybe it is something as plain and simple as ‘consumerism’ (although this is a different issue altogether, with enough merit in itself to deserve a separate post. 😀 ). A cursory glance would not do. What ever it is, it has brought about a remarkable change in the thoughts of a section of the society. Care should be taken so that this is not limited to a section but percolates through the whole society. This is one form of dilution I am prepared to take gladly.

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    • Shatadru
    • January 23rd, 2008

    Suvayu, I would attribute the change to consumerism and these days festivals irrespective of relegious affiliation are an occasion for change in an hectic consumerist lifestyle. So visiting KFC on a mourning day is not bewildering! And as we all will agree nothing is permanent but change!

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