Thursday , 12 December 2019
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Festivals and Stunts
News reports about a minor boy aspiring to be the ‘Govinda’ for next Sunday’s Dahi-Handi celebrations falling to death during a practice session in Mumbai bring to sharp focus the uncertainties that tag traditional festivals where queer and weird customs associated with the festivities make one wonder at the wisdom of permitting such death-defying acts. The festival of Sanfermines in Pamplona, Spain, which involves hundreds of people wildly running in front of six furious bulls and another six steers down an 825-metre stretch of narrow streets of a section of the old town is one such merriment which has gained worldwide popularity for the thrill it gives the wild and boisterous revelers. Closer at home, getting bitten by Venomous snakes on purpose during the Manasa Devi festival in Jharkhand; the mortification of the flesh by piercing of the skin, tongue or cheeks with metal skewers as is common during the ‘Thaipusam’ festival celebrated by the Tamil community and a host of such other practices make one believe that you are in the midst of a riot and not a celebration of feasts. The ‘Dahi handi’ festival celebrated as an event in parts of the country during the ‘Janmashtami’ purports to be nothing different! Reliving as simple an incident as the naughty ‘Krishna’ managing to get his hands on a pot of curd kept hidden from him, the festival is today as commercialised as it could ever get. The earthen pot strung up at a considerable height may have the symbolic buttermilk, but it is the lure of the ‘prize money’ inside, which substitutes the ‘customary ingredients’, that is the attraction. Be that as it may, but in the quest for the remunerative offerings, it is the sight of giant human pyramids which appear to crumble all over itself that gives one the chill. Moreover, attempts by onlookers to douse the participants with pails of water to make them lose their balance atop the structure give an eerie look to the whole proceeding! Immaterial of the fact that several people are seriously injured during these shenanigans, we still show a distinct penchant to continue with the traditions apparently to keep the spirit of the celebrations alive. Does not logic dictate that we avoid revelries at the risk of people’s lives? While not intending to hurt the religious sentiments of anyone, it does appear absurd that queer customs still pervade our traditional beliefs.
Compulsive Litigants
There has been some talk about making a law to weed out ‘compulsive litigants’. One wonders how anyone would be able to identify a compulsive litigant from a regular litigant seeking justice. The issue therefore is not to be dealt by avoidance but by getting our judges to assess the frivolousness or correctness of the cases that come before them and the other apparent objectives that the litigant is seeking apart from justice. Once the judge is satisfied that this is the case then the bench can then within the framework of the law pass verbal strictures on the litigant and in very obvious cases impose penalties financial and otherwise. Our laws should be designed to deliver justice not to prevent it from happening. Our lawmakers may not know that the Government and its various establishments is the biggest litigant in India with more than 50 per cent of the currently pending cases in the courts having the government as one of the parties. It is known that one government department or undertaking will with great felicity file a case against its sister departments or enterprises on the flimsiest of grounds. Therefore if at all the compulsive litigant rule is brought about then the first casualty will be the government. In law making it is best that one proceeds with caution and look further than the end of one’s nose.
S KAMAT, Bardez

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