MICHAEL VAZ, MERCES
LAST week a 26-year-old man in Jodhpur slit her throat of his 4-year-old daughter as a sacrifice to please Allah during the holy month of Ramzan. The man later said that he loved his daughter more than his own life. Quite often we hear of people, labelled as infidels, being killed during this pious month of prayer, fasting and charity, under the same creed that such things appease the Almighty and the perpetrator of such crimes is rewarded in heaven. Such incidents are not specific to any one particular religion. Earlier it was common to hear of children being kidnapped to offer as sacrifice to please God during the construction of bridges. Even now we hear of the ‘tantriks’ asking their tormented devotees who are issueless, to offer some child as sacrifice, to satisfy gods and the reckless people heeding to such demands. Didn’t we have the ‘Devdasi’ system in South India where hapless ladies were held captives to please the gods above, and here on earth, rapacious men satisfying their lust in the name of God? And despite so much of opposition from various groups on the age-old practices of forbidding women during their menstrual age from entering some religious places, the norms are still being adhered to, in the name of pleasing their gender-sensitive gods. Finally, what about the conversion doctrine that is so deeply engraved in Christianity which ultimately aims at ‘one fold and one shepherd’ goal? When we know that our encounter with religion is purely through the concurrence of birth, why are we so fanatical about conversions? And when the Right-wing activists vigilantly attempt to foil such bids, our religious leaders make a hue and cry that the Constitution is under threat and others claiming that the Indian ethos of inclusiveness, tolerance, plurality and secularism is waning.