But as I rubbed my eyes and got the ragged old wheels of my mind to turn, I realized that it wasn’t a nightmare. It was something real, and much worse.
Once again, after a few weeks, some bright-minded people had put up big loud-speakers about the place which were blowing to the best of their capabilities. Presently playing ‘bhajans’ to some God on the tunes of a cheap item song. I couldn’t remember what the song was like, but recognized the familiar tune.
Having been woken up, after repeated attempts to bury my head deep beneath heaps of pillows, I finally gave up and readied myself for a day full of high decibels of spirituality.
By about 3 pm in the afternoon, the stuff really started to get to my head when some guy (supposedly the one in charge of the sound system) decided that this was his chance to hog all the attention and started shouting on the microphone.
Well, all that he seemed to shout was either a ‘halii’ or a ‘heliou’ instead of a ‘hello’, which made it all the more irritating. So, I set out towards the source of the sound, to give whoever it was, a good piece of my mind.
Here I would like to mention that our house is situated at just a street’s distance from the banks of where the Ganges once used to flow. As the water has moved quite a distance away, the land adjoining the bank has been occupied by numerous temples and ‘ashrams’ which organize some sort of religious functions or the other every few days, and let the neighborhood have a good deal of it.
The present event being no different was a ‘maha-yagya’ of sorts as I could see on big banners as I moved towards the particular ‘ashram’. No sooner had I reached the place when I saw a big crowd entering the premises in the form of a procession with a couple of big luxury cars in the front. No wonder carrying the chief guest who claimed to be some ‘shankaracharya’ from somewhere.
Assessing the lack of any options to get myself to the source of the sound, I was forced to retreat and wait for it all to get over.
After two unbearable noisy days, I finally heard someone announcing the arrival of the Divisional Commissioner himself to grace the occasion. I felt a big relief on the prospects of it all coming to a much needed end.
The commissioner came, gave a speech and left, not once giving a look to the numerous big-sized loud-speakers hooked on to every nook and corner which were performing at their best. I am quite sure he didn’t because the noise continued with some increased whim after he left. A particular person was sporty enough to request the organizers to plant a couple of big-sized loud-speakers right on the roof of his house…
And that was when I lost it. It was already dark when I reached the spot. The ‘pandal’ was absolutely empty, with an assortment of pictures of gods and goddesses exhibited on a podium, and with the sound system blaring at full volume with no one at the controls. I saw a guy approaching who pretty much looked like one of the organizers what with a bearded face, a ‘tilak’ on the forehead, dressed in a pair of jeans and pullover and with a small bag in his hand.
He mistook me as one who had got late in ‘paying’ (no pun intended) my dues to the gods and hurried towards me to get the work done. And that was when I let it all loose on him. The blaring loud-speakers which made me shout at the loudest made me all the more heated up to let him have it in no uncertain terms.
He : Yes ??
Me : I want to get this shut. RIGHT NOW !!!
He : Why ? (he actually had the nerve to ask me…)
I don’t quite remember what I replied to that, but I shouted without a stop for the next five minutes.
I then gave him an option to either go and get the sound-man immediately and stop the nonsense or otherwise, he’ll be a sound-system short.
I don’t really know what made him decide to go and fetch the guy, whom I saw coming ever so nonchalantly, until he saw the look on my face and hurried a bit. But to my relief, he quickly stopped the system. That was peace for the rest of the night.
Though they were at it again the next foggy morning. But by now they had cleverly turned the loud-speakers to a different direction (towards the city zoo which is in our area too. I really pity the poor animals) so that I wouldn’t bother them again. This nuisance continued for the major part of eight days, making life hell for whoever came in line of the high volume of the loud-speakers.
It just goes to show how people misuse religion in our country and can get away with murder in the name of religion. (they actually do…) I had a good mind to report them to the police station. But seeing that they had the patronage of the commissioner himself, I felt it would all be of no use.
I would like to inform everyone reading this that there is a particular ‘Public Nuisance Act’ through which you can complain about any such nonsense that troubles you and others, specially in the name of religion. (IPC Public Nuisance sections 268-295)
In these months when kids and students are ever so busy preparing for their examinations, it is all the more important that we put our foot down on such stupidity. There are old and ill people in neighborhoods, schools and offices that need a certain degree of quietness to function. We, as responsible citizens need to raise a voice against such acts of public nuisance that affects the lives of one and all, and not sit back and tolerate it all in the name of religion.