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From ‘Taboo’ to ‘Tolerance’

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LOVE AND INDIAN SOCIETY – TRANSITIONING FROM ‘TABOO’ TO ‘TOLERANCE’

It is summer. Imagine you are walking down a long dusty road. You are tired, your throat is parched. A little water to drink is all you need. You have two options:

1-     A roadside tap with cool, fresh water – but you do not know the source

2-     An unopened, branded can of still water – but which is a couple of months old

What would you choose?

Er, let me guess. Most would choose Option 2. The reason: We assume it is safe, because certainly, it has been officially approved.

Well, this may be an awful example. But this is exactly how we treat this commodity called ‘Love’.

Indian society is known to have classified its people into different castes, groups and sects. This has always been the case. Even so with Love. We believe Love is divine. We worship it. And we divide it into Pure and Impure. Just like that branded and unbranded water!

So long as Love refers to ‘clearly named and approved’ relationships, it is accepted by society. Therefore, affection towards parents, love for the spouse (own spouse, of course 😉 ), children, siblings…is respected and appreciated. But love that crosses any of these boundaries immediately turns on the danger signals!

And that exactly is where problems begin. We build a mass of unwritten rules about love.

Parents must love their children…Children must reciprocate this love by looking after parents in their old age…Young girls and boys must not fall in love with each other (unless of course, its a very brotherly/sisterly love!!)…One must Love within the same community…etc. etc.

Now, I am not saying these are all bad. But these rules are way too rigid!

We are utterly emphatic about our limited understanding of ‘pure’ love, and disparaging of anything beyond that, which we conveniently denigrate as illegitimate!

Indian society is brutally intolerant towards emotions that cross approved peripheries.

Let us take a few examples from recent times:

–        An honour killing takes place in the most gruesome manner because it is love across ‘approved boundaries’, a panchayat wants to ban same gotra-marriages and a survey shows most people actually support it!

–        Certain self-proclaimed moral police / Sena threaten to marry off couples who were found celebrating Valentine’s Day and supposedly in love!

–        A famous educational institution suspends a professor on grounds of him being homosexual! So if the same professor had been with a female lover instead of male, then it was alright? It is a shame too, that he will – forever – be remembered as ‘the gay professor who committed suicide’.

–        A film actress, who actually has a Temple built for her by fans, is worshipped for her ‘on-screen talent’. The same actress however, is taken to court for because she dared to support pre-marital co-habitation. So in reel-life, one can be in love multiple times, and still be respected, because in each film, the ‘character’ was supposedly a devoted wife/’sincere lover’. However, in real-life, the thinking individual is veritably excommunicated because she challenged unwritten social norms.

–        If a girl were to express the slightest interest in a neighbour who belonged to a different caste, for example, what are the odds that she will be asked to tie a Rakhi for him and firm up a ‘chaste relationship’!

We are witness to such violence emerging out of ‘love’. And all this, because in our society, Love is an emotion that is largely overrated.

We are passionate people! And I don’t mean that in a weird way. In the true sense of the word, we are over-excited about Bollywood, Cricket and Love.. And not necessarily in that order! We toss these on a pedestal and worship them!

Therefore, ‘Love’ moves from being an everyday, common emotion, into something absolutely sacred. And something that is taboo!

We do need to realise, though, that like hunger or thirst, love too, is an everyday, common emotion. It is not a secret! It certainly isn’t untouchable!! We are not guardians of ‘love’. We are just insignificant beings that feel the emotion. Simple!

The quicker we accept this fact, the lesser the importance we will award to all those unwritten cobwebs of rules that have served to build our perception of Love! And then, we might also stop confusing Love with other things like Virginity, Duty and Responsibility, amongst other things!

We can bid adieu to all those moral policemen who try to formalise and shield Love, to those followers of Godmen, who confuse love with sex, and to those hate-mongers who use Love as a pretext to inflict more violence on society!

When Love isn’t taboo, then ‘honour’ killings are meaningless, too!

When Love does not bind you to someone of the opposite sex whom you do not actually love, then certainly, we would make a more tolerant and happy society!

It is extremely difficult, but it is the only way forward!

Indian society at large, has to liberate itself from its monumental perception of ‘love’. It has to broaden its boundaries. Nay, trash all boundaries, and accept that Love has many different forms (defined and undefined), and that they are all natural, human emotions. When we accept this fact, Love will not be ‘taboo’.

So, again, let me ask you a question.

It is summer. Imagine you have reached that long dusty road. You are exhausted, your throat is parched. A little water to drink is all you need. You still have two options:

1-     A roadside tap with cool, fresh water – you have no idea of the source, but it seems clean

2-     An unopened, branded can of still water – which could be a little stale

What would you choose? Er, let me guess. Option 2!!! Bah!!! I told you, that was a bad corollary to Love.

But I do hope this post made you think. And accept the fact that Love is just another emotion.

Let us stop idolising it.

The mantra is not ‘Taboo 😦’ but ‘Tolerance 🙂’.