Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Shambho and the Pious Pilgrim

Shambho, the sacred bull from Carmarthenshire was reprieved by a high court ruling earlier this week. The decision has been hailed by Hindu monks throughout the country who claim that they were fighting for Shambho's cause not because he belonged to a temple, but because to them all life is sacred. This is indeed a nice sentiment. Very humane and all that. But to me, it reeks of hypocrisy.

I find it rather ironic that a community that puts such a high price on a single life has such little regard for the environment. That in a land where millions worship the elephant god everyday, no one so much as raises an eyebrow when elephants are slaughtered by the thousands in the wild. That the very same people who take to the streets and burn effigies to protest the culling of a bull don't think twice before damning an entire ecosystem to hell.

Reuters reports in a little publicized article that pilgrims to holy sites are destroying the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayas. Everyday, scores of worshippers arrive at these sites in buses, cars and even helicopters, only to leave behind tonnes of refuse. The plastic they leave behind is slowly choking the life out of the rivers, while massive deforestation and rapid human development promises to turn the Himalayan range into one massive dumping ground. The government cannot do anything about it of course; religion is above the law in India. Meanwhile, a handful of volunteers cry themselves hoarse, even as their pleas fall on deaf ears.

As the volume of devotees keeps increasing, it becomes incumbent on the pilgrims themselves to wake up to this impending doom and do something about it. That, however is not very likely. And that is what depresses me. I ask you devout Hindu pilgrims then: Is it too much to ask you to carry your own trash? And is it too much to ask you to not treat the abode of your Lord as a dump? It's not like it cannot be done. Millions of Muslims flock to Mecca every year, yet the shrine maintains its sanctity. Is your shrine any less sacred than theirs? Or is it just the stone god you worship, but not his abode.


At July 19, 2007 at 8:30 AM, Blogger SVR said...

You are right J - its just the stone god that they worship - not the Abode, not the Idea, not the Concepts that the stone is supposed to represent. Its just the stone.
And if you they flowers, milk, expensive silk and rice on the stone - they will go to heaven when they die. If someone is so focused on making sure they are OK after they die - you think they care as to what happens to the living?


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