Yesterday, you were a care-free calf
Tugging teasingly at your mother’s teats.
And gamboling gaily
In an abandon of joy.
Today, you are weighted with garlands, mantras, and the
collective sins of the community.
The pujari extols the benefits of ‘karu puja’.
He compares your eyes to Surya and Chandra.Your ears to Usha and Pratyusha,
Your body to the abode of Mahalakshmi, Saraswati and Raudri,
Your horns to Sri Devi and Bhu Devi,’
Your nose to Vaishnavi,
Your forehead to Maheswari,Your feet to the four Vedas
And your teats to Dharmam, Jnanam, Aishwaryam and Vairagyam
(Righteousness, Knowledge, Auspiciousness and Detachment)
But…………..no one notices the tears in your eyes.They feed you with rice and sambar, deceit and betrayal,
And wonder that you turn your head away distastefully.
They smear you with kum-kum and manjal,
Chandan and ceremony,
They pay obeisance and lip-service,
They offer incense and incantations,
Oblations and silver coins;
They tie an angavastram, a length of silk
Around your innocent neck;
They deify you and prostrate themselves
In front of your bewildered body.
No one notices your head heavily touching the ground,
Under all these trappings.
What can I do to ease your burden?
I reach out, and try to wipe out that hunted look in your eyes,
And you tremble at my touch.
The puja over,
They rush to restaurants;
Serving their favourite dishes.
The atmosphere rife with irony
And orders for chilled beer and brandy
Mutton biriyani and chilli chicken,
Interspersed with sounds of
“Punya puja and prayaschittam.”
They gorge themselves with food, drink, and self-delusion,
Until they are bloated with complacency and self-righteousness
Before they return to their old ways of
Slothfulness, and sinfulness,
Superstition and self-indulgence, Until the time comes around
To find another scape-goat.
A WOMAN’S TEARS(Hengada Kannaneeru)
A daughter’s tears will water the fields,
And wither all the crops,
And cause a famine in the land,
Or so the legend goes. A sister’s sobs will swell the stream
And turn it into a river of blood,
Which will wipe the entire village out,
Or so the folk-tale says.A mother’s heart-break will pace the road
That leads to the ancestral home,
With splinters of her broken heart,
And the men who tread on them
Will be turned to stone,
Or so the elders say.A woman’s curse will turn cows to snakes
And blight the prosperity of the place,
For when the ‘Lakshmi’ of a place is destroyed,
What else can survive?
Daughter, sister, mother, woman,
Hurt her he who dares.
“Hennogiri mannogiri” *
The spirit of Hethai still reigns supreme in this land,
And the wheel of Sathyam will turn
Full circle.* – A Badaga woman’s curse will cause the soil to become barren (Since the Badagas have mainly been an agricultural people, this is the worst curse that can befall them).– Hethai is the most important deity of the Badagas.
What myth informs you
That your god is greater than ours?
Which fairy tale tells you
That your god is the only one?
Which god gave you the right to brain-wash our vulnerable, guileless people
With a brush dipped in guilt?
And who gave you the right to maul our culture?
You justify your self and say
That religion is different from culture,
But one is the warp, and the other, the weft of the fabric of our credo,
Which has the texture of the trees,
The flow of the mountain – stream
The scent of the earth,
The melody of bird-song,
And is in tune with the music of the cosmos.
It is the age-old story of exploitation,
And it will take ages for us to recover from the wounds
You have inflicted on our souls
In the name of saving them.
But you have reckoned without
Our God of Satyam
We will wait——
Tomorrow is time enough for your expiatation.
[In the ‘Song Of The Hill People‘, Ms.Indu K Mallah has beautifully brought out the mindless and meaningless (religious) conversion of hill people especially, Badagas. What used to be an unforgivable act a couple of decades ago, has become a routine affair now.
I am yet to meet a ‘converted’ Badaga who could give me atleast one convincing reason for the change. I know of many Badagas who say ‘I am a proud HINDU and have no problems in praying/ keeping pictures of other religious deities also in my puja room’. Hats off to them!! Badagas have been a very closely knit community. Let not”religion” divide them.]
[The poems of Indu K Mallah are from the net.]