This is an unbelievable regimentation. You have to pinch yourself to believe that you are not in Pakistan or in a Wahabi Arab land. An Indian state that thrives on income from Hindu temples is dictating terms and imposing atrocious conditions on Hindus for allowing them to celebrate the Ganesh festival. Notably, the same state apparatus allows all non-Hindus festivals without any such conditions.
The very first condition makes it very difficult for Hindus, if not impossible, to install the image of Ganesh. Here’s what the condition says:
“Any organiser intending to install Vinayakar idol should apply in a prescribed format (as in Form-I) to the Assistant Commissioners of Police concerned, where there are Police Commissionerates, and RDO/SUB Collector in all other cases, at least a month in advance along with No Objection Certificates (NOCs) obtained from
1.) Land owner concerned. If the proposed land is a public land, NOC from the Local Bodies concerned/Highways or the Department concerned should be obtained;
2.) The Station House Officer concerned (including Sound Amplifies License/Permit),
3.) Fire and Rescue Services to the effect that temporary structures erected adhere to the fire safety standards
1.) A letter indicating source of power supply and proof of temporary supply of electricity from TANGEDCO.
Necessary permission will be issued by the Assistant Commissioner of Police in Police Commissionerates, and RDO/Sub-Collector in other cases in Form-II annexed to the guidelines. (PUBLIC (LAW & ORDER DEPARTMENT G.O.Ms.No. 598 Dated:09.08.2018)”
First, the Tamil Nadu government order has made it quite difficult, if not impossible, to even think of organizing a Ganesh image installation. So many permissions, that too one month in advance, are prescribed and for each permission the poor organizer is supposed to run from one office to another. Moreover, the organizer would have to rely on the prescribed authority to grant him/her a meeting at the time of the visit. For each permission, the person is supposed to give guarantees, show permission from the land owner where the Ganesh image is to be installed, and so on. And everything in writing. The Hindu organizers are harassed and discouraged if they wish to celebrate their festival, while never in the past such restrictions were imposed on Muslims or Christians celebrating Eid or Christmas.
Can they imagine how Hindus plan the festivities? It’s on a very personal level – either they have a wish, a religious resolution, an offering to the gods, according to each one’s capacity, and organizational strength. Sometimes, they plan a year in advance, sometimes it is just at the spur of the moment. It all represents a grand collective of our personal choices, wishes and joys. It’s all between me and my god.
But here, in Tamil Nadu, the “secular government” has an explicit prejudice mindset against the Hindus who want to follow the traditions of festivities. All the secular constitutional authorities come together to tell them – “Celebrate your festival the way we are instructing you.” The government order to regulate and regiment Ganesh festivities made it clear that the state would be happy if all Hindus remained inside homes and didn’t participate in the festival.
The other instruction in the same “gag-Ganesh order” is as follows:
“The idols proposed to be installed should be made of pure clay and should not be made of any polluting materials such as Plaster of Paris or painted with prohibited polluting chemicals and as stipulated by Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and Central Pollution Control Board from time to time. In case idols are to be painted, water soluble and non-toxic natural dyes alone should be used. Use of toxic and non-biodegradable chemical dyes for painting idols is strictly prohibited.”
The Tamil Nadu government, so keen to tame and discipline the Hindus, further dictates:
(5) The height of the idol proposed to be installed should not exceed 10 feet including the base and the dais.
(6) Installation of idols near other religious places / hospitals / educational institutions should be avoided.
(7) Sound Amplifier (Mike) License would be granted only for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening, during Pooja. Cone type speakers are prohibited and only box type speakers should be used.
The Tamil Nadu government was sure that Hindus are going to raise communal slogans, put up pictures of communal leaders” (read Hindu leaders), and take out Ganesh processions from the roads where mosques and churches are situated. Hence it prohibited that “the procession should be taken out through the routes by-passing the mosques/churches, as stipulated by the police authorities.”
The government order is so presumptuous and hateful that it even announces that this order is to guide Hindus on “worship of Vinayakar idols“. So, it’s not the priests, the saints and the monks and peethadhipathis who can guide Hindus on how they should worship, it is the law and order department of a secular state apparatus that has taken upon itself the duty to ‘civilize’ Hindus.
The very first line, the title of the order, says it all
“Law & Order — Guidelines for installation and worship of Vinayakar idols and also immersion thereof – notified.”
The distress, the suspicion the fear of Hindus going berserk, attack mosques and churches if the Ganesh images are installed near them is so maddeningly high that the order leaves nothing for imagination and doesn’t leave a space for a dialogue with Hindus. It specifically tells Hindus:
“No flex boards in support of any political party or communal leader shall be erected at the premises of the programme.
(10) Organisers should depute two volunteers round the clock for safety of the idol. The installation places of idol should be properly illuminated. Generator set may be provided in case of power failure.
(11) Shouting of slogans inciting communal hatred and affecting the sentiments of other religions shall not be permitted at any cost.”
Obviously, the “gag-Ganesh order” caused a sense of humiliation and shock among Hindu organizations so much so that Hindu Munnani, a religious organization, filed a petition in the Madras high court stating that the petitioner is willing to comply with the guidelines, but feel that conditions number 1, 2, 13, 15, 16 and 24 are onerous, practically impossible, unworkable and issued with an intention to stall the entire Vinayagar Chathurthi Festival itself.
The petitioner, C Parameswaran, stated in detail how obnoxious and anti-Hindu this order is. Readers will have to go through only one brief part of his petition to understand how the state government made a mockery of the Hindu festival and treated Hindus as suspected law and order problem.
The petitioner said, “Obtaining of No objection Certificates from the local bodies, highways or the department concerned can never happen since everyone knows the time taken by each section of a department to clear the files. For example, even in a local body, whom should the application be given to is not clear. There is also no provision for the same in any local body acts or rules, since the same is a temporary shed for a limited period of three to ten days maximum. It is the same with highways and other departments. When it is not even clear who is the authority to give permission then finally it has to go with the top most authority and by the time they take a decision after following necessary procedures at least two-year Vinayagar Chathurthi Celebrations would be over. I submit that, again with all these NOCs, permission has to be applied before the officer not less than Asst. Commissioner of Police / RDO / Sub-Collector, which would mean that a person who wants to install a temporary idol in a small village will have to travel for days to the taluk headquarters and spend time at the doorsteps of the officers concerned.”
Another petitioner Arumugam, village Ammanambakkam, stated, “When I travel for more than 15 kilometers to the office of the RDO or sub-collector, I do not know who will be available and who will issue the permission … there are several villages where the Ganesh Idols were installed which are very far from Taluk Head Quarters. Similarly, in cities, it is still difficult since already every department and body is busy with activities from morning to evening, the devotees cannot even get access to the officers … last year, 140 Ganesh Idols were installed and taken by way of procession for immersion in our Panchayat Union. But, there is only one fire station for the entire Thirukkazhukundram Panchayat Union and there are only less than ten staff available in the fire service station … And the entire Panchayat Union covers a distance of 20 square kilometers.”
These petitions are still in the high court and Hindus are waiting for a relief.
Advocate Thiru Karthikeyan Gurusamy, who represented Arumugam, says that only Hindus are targeted during such festivals. There are Muslim days of faith observance like Muharram when swords and other weapons are exhibited publicly, people whip themselves with these weapons and blood oozes from their bodies, but the authorities never issue any guidelines on how to ‘worship’. Similarly, a massive public gathering takes place during Velankanni Church, Besant Nagar, Chennai when lakhs of Christian devotees come to offer prayers on foot from distant places. There has never been a single instance when they were issued any guidelines for the conduct of the pilgrimage or instructed on ways to “worship”.
Hindus, being Hindus, are treated as rogues by the secular state government, that looks down on their festivities.
Go on Hindus, celebrate your rise, while back home your numbers are not just dwindling but the prestige and honour of Hindu festivals come under the hammer as if they are aliens. Their temples are taken over by the state, their festivals are banned or restricted, they are told by so-called secular authorities on how to celebrate festivals and be ‘good Hindus’.