The quest for Hindu identity amidst Jallikattu protests

In recent one week, people from Tamil Nadu have been protesting at mass scale to lift the ban imposed by Supreme Court on their millennia old practice, Jallikattu. The mass scale support which this movement has been receiving from every corner is astonishing in several aspects. In recent times, liberals, Cultural Marxists and evangelicals have launched unprecedented attack on every cultural and religious practice of Hindus to alienate them from their religions. When they could take the path of judiciary for achieving their objective-as in case of Jallikattu and Dahi Handi, they did as well as their control on discourse make it more easy for them to push their agenda and ideology in the society.

However, amidst this roaring protests, there are several crucial questions need to be asked. Why do we observe such mass scale protest in the case of Jallikattu only? Why didn’t the Hindus from other part of India protest when there was an assault on their tradition? Which identity has been the central force behind the protest in this case?

Identity is the core of our being, existence and our conception of self. Identity is a multilayered thing having multiple aspects in different contexts and disciplines. According to Angie Andriot and Timothy J Owens, there are four prevalent theories of identity in social psychology. Personal Identity Theory, Role Identity Theory, Social Identity Theory and Collective Identity Theory deal with the different level of human identity. In this case, Collective Identity should be our concern because such movements are often driven by collective identity. When any group fights for achieving particular social or political goal, a sense of homogeneous collective identity is necessary to motivate people for ensuring their participation. Collective Identity can be further divided in four categories: Religious Identity, Cultural Identity, Ethnic Identity and Linguistic Identity. In real life scenarios, combination of identities are responsible for mass scale mobilizations.

Coming to the issue of Jallikattu now, the identity which was responsible for attracting the mass scale protests is cultural identity. CM of Tamilnadu is supporting the movement because this is a direct assault on Tamil culture. AR Rahman tweeted that he would be fasting to support the spirit of Tamil Nadu. Rajnikanth commented, “Bring in whatever rules by Jallikattu must be held to keep up the traditions of our Tamil culture.” When a person or group has multiple identities, one identity becomes stronger than the rest and gains the prominence. Despite having close connections of Jallikattu with Hinduism, nobody is openly proclaiming that we will support Jallikattu because it’s an attack on our religious tradition and celebration.

A section of Hindus have been enthusiastic about the recent developments in this case, as they see it as a movement of Hindu Renaissance. Far from being any sort of Hindu Renaissance, this is another movement of people fighting for their cultural identity and diluting the identity of being a Hindu. In Tamil Nadu, from the days of Dravidian movement, there has been systematic assault on every aspect of Hinduism. Periyar, who was the architect of this movement of Dravidian supremacy and proponent of Tamil nation, tried to severe every aspect of Hinduism in the garb of atheism and rationalism. The foundation of Tamil and Dravidian supremacy lies in the debunked Aryan Invasion Theory which terms all North Indians as foreign invaders and Dravidians being the native of this land. Church was instrumental in propagating this hypothesis to advance their agenda. The breeding of Tamil Supremacy and Church has produced theories which say that Tamil is the oldest language and Jesus used to speak Tamil. No wonder, Christians are the second biggest demographic group in Tamil Nadu.

In past 80 years, Tamils have seldom protested for the defense of Dharma, even when the traditional priest family of fifth-century Natarajar Temple was ousted from managing temple affairs. Such events are the testimony of the fact that the identity of being a Tamil supersedes the identity of being a Hindu. If we fix our gaze towards North India, the situation is even more gloomy for Hindu identity. In this region, Hindus don’t subscribe to any cultural identity even to assert their identity. Most of them have turned into floating bags, disconnected from root. In the Hindi speaking regions, there is neither any sense of religious nor cultural identity which is asserted emphatically by people collectively.Whenever any festival of Hindus is celebrated, the same section of liberals are quick to turn it as misogynist, barbaric, feudal, and casteist practice. When Durga is called an Aryan whore and Mahissaasura is celebrated by JNU students, we don’t see Hindus marching on streets against such nonsense.

In Madhya Pradesh, Hindus lost their rights from centuries old temple in Bhojshala, but there was no any mass scale protest or gathering. In case of Maharashtra, when there was attack on the tradition of Shani Shignapur Temple, Hindus accepted the decision of court meekly without showing any sign of resistance. In Maharashtra, the theory of Mool Niwasi planted by Jyotiba Phule has started yielding its result now with the widespread celebration of Bali as Christ while Vamana being the oppressive Brahmin. In Bengal, people will come on streets to stand up for their Bengali identity, but seldom gather to act against the Islamic onslaught on Bengali Hindus. In almost every case, where cultural identity and linguistic identity can be adopted, Hindus have adopted those identity and abandoned their Hindu identity. Even if there any such identity exists, it’s confined to the premises of house only.

Considering the quantum and diversity of threats which Hindus have been facing currently, the need of Hindu identity has become even more important. Hindus need to put the identity of being Hindu above every other identity to save themselves from annihilation and get desired political results. As long as they’re confused about their identity, the political and cultural sphere will never be in their favour due to the multiplicity of threats. In the realm of identities, the priority of identity must be fixed to achieve the collective goals. Amidst this protests for protecting their Tamil culture, Hindus should take the lesson of subscribing to the identity which is most crucial for their survival.

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