To the Hindus : This Diwali, light a diya and weep

Dahi Handi, Jallikattu, and now Diwali.

Of course.

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Don’t question it. Don’t speak against it. Don’t even dare to raise an eyebrow. Better keep your eyes closed and head hanging downwards.

Don’t utter a word of protest.

Be silent. They can ban the sound of our voice, but can they ban silence?

They can ban lights. But can they ban the darkness?

Who knows?

Be silent and light a diya. And remember. Remember the thousand years of Hindus who lived before you on this very land. They were born on this land where their ancestors had lived for thousands of years before them.

But they were told that this land isn’t theirs. For hundreds of years, they paid jizya to live upon it. From Mathura and Kashi to Ayodhya and Somnath, their temples were destroyed. They lived on with only the memories.

Then missionaries came to the impoverished Hindus.

Light your diya and try to feel the inner torment of the Hindu who had to convert for a bag of rice. Hunger is a horrible thing.

Then partition happened. We lost most of Punjab, most of Bengal and all of Sind forever. Another undeclared partition happened in the early 90s in Kashmir when even more Hindus became refugees in their own land. Today, the Hindus of Western Uttar Pradesh, of many parts of Assam, Kerala and Bengal stand one generation away from meeting the same fate.

What is there for Hindus to celebrate on Diwali, after all?

Good that they banned it.

Today is not hundreds of years ago. If a majority Hindu population in a democratic country cannot guarantee for themselves the minimum right to cultural existence, whose fault is it?

Stop blaming others. And for god’s sake, don’t go out there on Twitter or Facebook and troll the triumphant seculars in your frustration. They are the only ones with a right to celebrate this Diwali. They have won another famous victory over the non-believers.

Do something meaningful this Diwali. Go out and embrace your Hindu neighbor from another caste or region. Go speak to the Tamil brothers and sisters who can’t celebrate Jallikattu, your Marathi brothers and sisters who can’t celebrate Dahi Handi and your Bengali brothers and sisters who are at the mercy of Muharram to dictate their Durga Puja calendar.

“Your struggle is my struggle.”

Tell them.

Light a lamp and think of why the Hindus have seen the misfortunes they have for a thousand years. And if they ban even that, light a lamp in your heart. Only you can banish your inner darkness  and they cannot take your inner light away.

Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.

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