If you haven’t ever observed what the heading says, just visit the Delhi-Haridwar highway during the Kanwar Yatra, an annual pilgrimage of disciples of Lord Shiva. And those, who were spectators of what happened in the late night during Shab-e-barat when thousands of bikers superseded the law in the name of communal celebration, know it all. India, a country which is home to multiple religions and customs, is renowned forreligious celebrations, be it the Ganesh Visarjan of Maharashtra, Durga Puja of Kolkata, or the Kumbh Mela of Haridwar and Allahabad. The rich heritage calls numerous travelers from around the world every year, yet the only area of pain is the stumbled law and order state during such times.
Three men on a single bike, and sometimes even four, travel thedistance to fetch holy waters of Ganges River, which can laterbe offered to Lord Shiva. The Kanwar Yatra sponsors opencontravention of law, which is allowed in the name of devotiontowards the Almighty. Every year, newspapers cover the instances of nuisance by the Kanwarias who are fearless of thepolice and binding laws of the land. Similar milieu can be observed at other ceremonies, which reveals how much helpless our authorities are when rules are broken owing to religious beliefs. For instance, when the bikers were harassing the general public at the midnight of Shab-e-barat on the roads of the capital, the policemen did not dare to take any corrective actions.
Now, should we prefer putting an end to the celebrations which have been the most sparkling jewel of our crown, or the show must go on in the same manner? For sure, the Kanwar Yatra, Shab-e-barat, and Durga Puja are the times when our spiritsmove closer to the Almighty, hence an end to celebrationswould mean end of India’s and Indians’ exceptionality. The second option too cannot serve any purpose in the light of what has been happening in the name of faith. The general public is not just the sole sufferer, the policemen and other officials alsobear the burden of unwarranted freedom allowed during such periods. And the nuisance created by the group of devoteessaves them owing to the fact that the group has no individuality.
What can then be a workable solution? The constitution of Indiarenders supreme power to the law and prohibits any specialperks to a particular cluster. Hence, rules, be it the transport laws, civil laws, criminal laws, or the pollution laws, shall be accorded supreme place during all times. Can you think of a time when motor vehicles without any authentic documents drive freely on the Indian roads? Yes, during religious celebrations. The police and other authorities, along with been assigned the task of easing the surroundings for the devotees, should also be delegated the power to curb any unlawful practice. Law shall treat all alike; and remember, the earlier we anticipate this concern, easier it would be to execute the plan of action.
Herein, the participants have to be all of us. Our customs andrituals are the roots of our very existence; however in no way do they support nuisance and unauthorized behavior. Plus, when a particular community rejoices any sacred ceremony, others in case they cannot be cooperative shall not be destructive. The state governments, distinct legal departments, social and religious leaders, and such other stakeholders of the society have to play their crucial part. Nothing can be expected unless a clear and tough message is disseminated in the public that ritualswould not be allowed to supersede the law of the land. And once the scene is set to welcome positive changes, believe me, our festivals and celebrations will become even more joyful and soothing.