Diwali is not a religious festival: how pseudo-seculars are distorting the history

Earlier today, Firstpost published an article by one Saquib Salim, who is a researcher of modern history at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), which claims that Indian festivals, both Hindu and Muslim, were celebrated by all communities together, till the British invaded India and divided us and destroyed our ‘secular’ fabric.

He cites work of Nazeer Akbarbadi, an Urdu poet from the overlapping time of decline of Mughal era and rise of British rule in India, and claims that Nazeer wrote “several poems on what could be termed “Hindu festivals” in today’s parlance.” He further states that, “Whatever be the reason, it points towards the times when festivals were more cultural than religious.”

Essentially, it was an article that tried to suggest that all the Hindu festivals should be ‘secularized’ and Hinduness removed from them, something that ‘liberals’ have been trying to do for everything Hindu. Either shame Hindus for celebrating the festivals (by terming them anti-environment, anti-women, anti-equality, etc.) or strip them of Hindu history and ‘secularize’ them by calling them ‘cultural festival’ and not religious ones.

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I don’t know how best to call out the absurdity of these statements without coming across as an intolerant “Internet Hindu”.

To start with, to argue that Hindu festivals under Mughal rule represented any ‘pure form’ is illogical if not criminal. It was not composite culture, but appropriation of culture, just like what is being attempted now.

The British weren’t the ones to divide India on religious lines, the Mughals had done it already. The British just took advantage of the already existing divide and exploited us. However, it was the Mughals who looted and plundered India and Hindu temples for years even before the British arrived on our soil and proceed to plunder even the soul. This glorification of Mughal invaders and being in denial about their atrocities on Hindus is sinister.

Diwali is celebrated to mark the return of Shree Ram, Lakshman and Sita back to the kingdom in Ayodhya. Considering Shree Ram is a Hindu god, this celebration is as much religious as the Sun rising from the east. And no, Diwali is a Hindu festival not just in “today’s parlance”, but it has been such since centuries. What happened under Mughals was aberration, not what kept on happening for centuries. Perhaps, modern history researchers should try and get the basic facts right.

Meanwhile, pro-Naxal activist and leader of the Leftist organisation CPI(ML), Kavita Krishnan, shared the same on Twitter.

She immediately got called out on her pseudo-secular stand.

Even ministers took potshots at the ridiculousness of these statements by Krishnan and Salim.


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