What is it these days with all the celebrities who never really respected Indian traditions, have possibly never read Hindu texts, nor pondered on their significance, do not understand or care for ‘yama and niyama’ the corner stones of a disciplined life think that they have the right to comment on Hindu traditions?
Now it is Twinkle Khanna, aka Mrs Funnybones, who thinks that Hindu traditions are regressive and only contribute to pollution.
So, if Mrs Funnybones seriously looked at various viewpoints, and data and statistics around pollution, ‘without bias’ then she would know that a ban on firecrackers in Delhi is not really about pollution as it is about choking Hindu traditions and festivities. Or else, we would be clamping on the number of cars, plane travel, and the size of houses that celebrities have, among many other things.
First, stop calling those who love Hindu traditions, are rooted in and have faithfully followed traditions, and definitely read and researched more about Hinduism than most celebrities as ‘trolls’ or ’earthworms’.
These are not trolls, these are people concerned about their country, and are here to take it back from half-literate celebrities who do not want to comment on their own carbon footprint and rant about pollution on Diwali. Celebrities who live in massive air-conditioned bungalows, and move around in oil guzzling, chauffeur driven, air-conditioned cars should not be talking about ‘pollution’. Period.
Second, while it is not appropriate to call Masaba or any other celebrity or ‘anyone’ (although Mrs Funnybones calls those who disagree with her ‘earthworms’) by a derogatory term, it is time that celebrities stop using their twitter list as some sort of congregation to be alerted and converted. A fashion designer should remain a fashion designer, and just because she has a twitter following she should not feel obligated to comment on issues, especially the ones she has only cursory understanding of. The same goes for actresses and comedians. As a famous American academician Neil Postman said, ‘A joke is not an argument’- it is important that we understand that a well-reasoned debate means to take opposite sides into consideration before commenting on an issue.
Mrs Funnybones is urged to study the issue thoroughly by going through some reputed journals, understanding statistics before she comes back to tweet on it. Just Google, and there is plenty of information, specifically related to this topic on how a few days of ban in Diwali does not reduce pollution. Here are some recent articles for your benefit, this one tells how crackers are only ‘small offenders when it comes to pollution’; this one talks about how it is various kinds of fuels and paddy burning in the vicinity that play a much bigger role in the capital’s pollution, than crackers. And here is a data driven article from last year that shows no special increase in pollution shortly after Diwali. Here is another data-driven article how the noise about Diwali causing heavy pollution is based on pseudo-science without any true scientific basis.
And Mrs Funnybones should continue to speak up about pollution when fireworks are back during Christmas and New Year’s celebration. Be consistent.
Third, people who have been celebrating Hindu festivals for thousands of years, also happen to be the people who have had a core understanding of deep connection between human beings, nature and animal kingdom. Their carbon footprint remains much lower than that of film stars, who merrily tweet about their vacations abroad and use foreign locations to shoot movies that are so low on plot and commonsense that they might as well have been shot in anyone’s backyard.
Mrs. Funnybones says, ‘I cannot stoop to the level where such beings reside as I believe that different perspectives should be presented, clearly and logically. And here is mine.’ But she goes ahead and labels anyone who presents his/her viewpoint, as regressive, troll, and an earthworm, if their views are different from hers. Might we ask, how many of your opponents’ views do you re-tweet and learn from? Or is that you think anyone who disagrees with you has nothing to teach you?
It seems that the celebrities are so very ‘open and progressive these days’ that they object to a woman fasting for half a day (Karva Chauth goes only from sunrise to moon rise) but will not say a word about what women and men in Bollywood do to their bodies to fit into the norms of the industry. Which God are they bowing to? Fame? Money? More acceptance in Bollywood and a possible ticket to Hollywood? What does an actress bow to when she goes under the knife, except that she is interested in attracting male gaze (most directors) so that she can be brought on to a large screen to continue that subjugation? That craving for male gaze is somehow better than being happily married to one man?
Women taking men’s name is neither regressive nor oppression. It is done for one main reason that once a woman marries into a family she then also takes on that Gotra. There is a science and a reason behind it (too detailed and complicated to be dealt with here). That said, not in all parts of India does a woman take her husband’s name.
When and where is it said that a man’s life is more important just because a woman takes her husband’s last name and happily joins his family? Remember she does not take her husband’s last name, but an entire family’s name. Having a common last name, wherever it is done in India, since it is not a pan-India phenomenon, brings a sense of one identity for an entire family. She gains a new identity, along with new siblings and a new set of parents. For maintenance and continuation of a family, changing of the last name, in some cases, among other things bring a psychological shift, even while she remains attached to her family of birth. In many cases, even the first name and the manner of dressing is changed, so she has a unique identity as a grown person. Not very different from when a college graduate starts to use an official instead of a nickname, and starts to wear professional clothing when he/she joins workforce. It provides a mental shift and a sense of responsibility. A rite of passage, that must occur to step into adulthood, otherwise, people are perpetually regressing into their adolescence, like many in your industry do. People then wear different identities, with a clear understanding of roles, rights and responsibilities of each identity. Not oppression, but a commonsensical way of acknowledging that we all wear different hats, we are daughters, mothers and wives at the same time, a co-worker and a silly friend too.
When woman takes her husband’s last name, she is not saying that her life is less important than her husband’s, but that they are now one family. Moreover, for all practical reasons, it is an easy way to track near and distant relatives, cousins and second cousins. While it is important to recognize people with the same last name as one large unit, it is also important to prevent any conjugal relations by accident. But of course, Mrs. Funnybones belongs to an industry where none of these things matter, where family as a basic stronghold of a society is to be ridiculed, while every actress in secret wants marriage and family. Once she has secured it, she gushes about it.
What would Mrs Funnybones recommend for middle class and lower middle class women? In what way are their lives bettered if they reject their husband’s last name and do not observe Karva Chauth? Did it ever occur to Mrs. Funnybones that many women are grateful and have a clear understanding of the interdependent relationship they have with husbands and their families. And who are Twinkle Khannas and other celebrities to impose their views, emerging from a privileged background that is so alien to average Indians, on Indians?
Forgoing food and water for half a day is hardly starving. You may ask Shahrukh Khan, who did worse for a song ‘Darde Disco’ in his movie ‘Om Shanti Om’ or Katrina Kaif for ‘Sheila Ki Jawaani’ song in Tees Mar Khan. What were they saying? ‘I want fame and money so bad that I will put my life at risk for a few shots that make me look much different from what I really am?’ Teaching children that one must torture one’s body for fame and money is to be held over a woman’s love for her husband?
If Mrs Funnybones cared to read, follow and understand Hindu traditions, then she would know that when a woman entered her husband’s home, as a new bride, she was honored like a Goddess—and addressed as Griha-Lakshmi for the rest of her life. She becomes the Annapurna, who feeds the family, a very important task, even though you consider it slavery. Wonder what Mrs. Funnybones thinks of hundreds and thousands of women flipping burgers at fast-food joints around the world? Because they get paid a pittance they become independent women? And somehow a woman cooking for her family who is also showered with love and respect, is to be ridiculed as a slave?
Women have held a very high position in a household, until of course feminism ruined it by equating household work with slavery. If we come to this planet –work we must, unless handicapped mentally and/or physically. Whether inside or outside the house, work is a way one contributes to society. Taking care of a household is one of the most important jobs that will never escape us, until we choose the life of a renunciate and beg for our food. Jantiors to CEOs, everyone must manage a household. Mrs Funnybones, who grew up with servants and has been provided everything on a silver platter, does not understand. We can understand that, but please stop preaching to us, since our lifestyles does not contribute to pollution as much as Mrs. Funnybone and her colleagues who carry a huge carbon footprint. Mrs Funnybones can take the quiz here and check. She may even ask her kitchen help to take it as well. We hope that Mrs Funnybones will not forget to tweet both the scores.
If Mrs Funnybones was rooted in our culture, she would know that women did not need to ask for any rights, they were always granted freedom and recognition in our civilization. A higher status to women is inherent in how we address them as ‘Devis’. Why, even our Gods are known by their women, Sita-Ram, Uma-Mahesh, Radhe-Krishna! And the same is in our stories such as Sohini Mahiwal and Sassi Punnuh. Compare that to Romeo-Juliet and Tristan & Isolde. The Right to vote came to Indian women at the inception of our country in its modern avatar, as opposed to many countries in the west, where women had to fight for that right. By the time women in Switzerland gained the right to vote in 1971, India had already had a woman Prime Minister for five years.
The comment from Mrs Funnybones ‘Why do you write open letters, tweet and troll in the language of the Brits? Why not go traditional there as well, use only our ancient languages and spare us your venom-filled and grammatically incorrect English?’ doesn’t even warrant a response. It is that mean girl from third grade, saying, ‘I speak better English than you!’
And yes one last thing, to use your sentence—but write it in our sentiments-‘for all the celebrities claiming to be the flag-bearers of progressiveness, it would be lovely if you adhered to your so-called ‘progressive’ ways and followed what you preached. If you care about women’s respect ban all those women who go under the knife before or after entering the film industry, do not force any overweight young woman (or man for that matter) to lose weight before they are launched. If you care for animals, go vegetarian before you talk of a crackerless Diwali!
And talk about pollution when you have moved into a smaller house, and have cut travel by plane and car! Mrs Funnybones, you may tweet pictures of yourself biking or walking, only after it has continued for a minimum of six months!!
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