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Death. The instant image makeover for Bal Thackeray?

Bal Thackeray’s death made him nobler for many TV news presenters and reporters than he ever was considered when alive.

The Journo-Thackeray dynamic: shit-scared, always. Respectful and affectionate – never. The surprise of that having passed, what is noticeable is the sometimes lecturing and sometimes admonishing tone of many on platforms of ideas/rant exchange, living rooms to Twitter, where one party has expressed satisfaction at best and pleasure at worst on the passing of the ailing 86-year-old Shiv Sena founder.

Inappropriate, poor taste, out-of-line etc are the rebukes I’ve witnessed. Also, uncultured and uncouth. I admit I find it somewhat cringe-inducing to celebrate death.

Holika Dahan is a festival. A festival that is celebrated. It’s when, as good Hindus, we light a bonfire and symbolically celebrate a lady called Holika being burnt alive as we munch on snacks. (For full story, Google Holika – Prahlad).

On Dussehra, fireworks and a celebratory fair accompany the re-enactment of three warriors being blown to smithereens. The idols of Ravana, Meghnath, and Kumbhakaran are burnt year-after-year, and like all good Hindu kids my most awesome memories are running amok during Dussehra fairs – which I guess taught me the importance of the victory of Good over Evil. But to observe the sanctity or sombreness of death – nah!

I’m not equating the two. Yes, I know Ravana and gang were evil. Bal Thackeray (TV news networks reminded me) was noble and wise. First – nobility, wisdom, good, evil are subjective. Second, if the “decorum” and “sensitivity” and “dignity” expected is respect for death per se (whoever the dead party may be), then the Hindu traditions mentioned above kinda screws that up. If the decorum, sensitivity and dignity expected are in deference to the near and dear ones of the departed soul, the moral conduct of the dead party is irrelevant. The feelings of the parties alive are important. Either way, respect for the dead is obviously not part of the Hindu tradition as taught to me since I was a boy impatient to see the three big Lankan dudes immolated. The Hindu tradition that Balasaheb was so proud of.

While I personally do not think it dignified or appropriate (purely for reasons of vanity, because I think it will make me look bad) to express either mirth or satisfaction at anyone’s death, but those Hindus who think it’s “wrong” – you’ve got a very weak case.

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More from Abhinandan Sekhri


  • http://www.facebook.com/kashinath.vaishampayan Kashinath Vaishampayan

    Hello! You seem not have grown up since you base your arguments on ‘what you remember having taught [?] in childhood and the way you behaved.’ You also seem to come come from some other planet…or at least want to sound like one since you write ‘those Hindus’ making yourself ‘different’ than them. All one can say is: indigestion of over knowledge or half knowlledge. Remember, no religion teaches to ‘celebrate’ death, but ‘we’ subverse theories to suit our own agendas and let decency go for a toss,. K R Vaishampayan

    • Samjhe?

      You comment on his understanding while conveniently staying away from the comment he has made. What he is trying to say is that while we have a tradition of celebrating the death of those who we consider evil, death now has the media portraying anyone as a saint (notwithstanding anything they might have felt/said of such people in the past)..

  • http://twitter.com/sheulibose Sheuli’s_Free_Tarot

    I think it is shocking that this secessionist was given a state funeral.

    • shikha

      i can’t even like your comment. You know what happens in india when you like someone’s comment, which our monarchs doesn’t like at all.

  • Siddhant

    why is this chap even allowed to write for NL ? ‘KINDA’ ‘SCREWS’ ?

    • That is why

      He kinda co-founded “NL”. Screws your comment doesn’t it?

      • Siddhant

        shit..thanks for the info.. but i came to NL for Madhu Trehan not this guy..I think he should stick to those interviews.

        • shikha

          his interviews suck more than his articles.

  • Siddhant Gupta

    Bullshit! Even if i assume thakray’s critics are correct, modern day raavan etc would be Osama and Dawood and NOT the guy who was given a state funeral by lakhs including political opponents. If you cannot understand such a basic thing, understanding hinduism would not be you cup of tea Mr. Sekhri. And dont try to preach about something you clearly have no idea about.

    • Samjhe?

      He isnt saying that Thackeray was Ravana. What he’s trying to understand (maybe) is how someone who was ravana (or the equivalent, or a little lesser) for the media suddenly becomes noble on his death, when we as Indians have always celebrated the death of people who we considered evil.

    • PFds

      Osama and Dawood would be feted by millions, if an appropriate opportunity arose. What then?

  • sankar ramamurthy

    Why is the author so elliptical? Can;t he make a point directly and simply? It’s hard to figure out what he wants to convey.

    • shayne singh

      Why are you surprised about that? He could be picked up by the police and his families’ business trashed for saying it more plainly, don’t you think?!

  • vikram

    kehna kya chahta hai bhai ye?

    • savio

      he will be responsible for taking down Newslaundry!!

  • Prakash

    The analogy of holi,dussehra is of academic interest at best. Even though evil is something subjective, an overwhelming number of indians do consider them (ravana,holika) evil. in case of thackeray, its not that much of a slamdunk. he founded a political party which was elected to state govt, was part of coalition with NDA, and has consistently won municipal elections. hence no point in media or anyone in a public forum going woohoo abt his death. there is no point of mixing hinduism with the generally accepted practice of ‘not saying ill abt the departed’, the case of hindus is not weak, its unrelated and irrelevant. it might make for an ok bit if u r doing political comedy in a club, but when extended to the length of an article, is just childish.

  • Raghu

    Ok.Now for a small error in the article – Meghnath was the son of Ravana and not brother.!!! Rest of it -OK.

  • Shree Pradhan

    Well written and bang on target Abhinandan!! tumhara ABHINANDAN!!:)) I just loved your erudite way of expression and honesty!!Keep it alive and keep it honest!!

  • Roark

    As this has been addressed to Hindus..I would like to clarify..The respect that is being granted after a person’s death is to the “departed soul”..because as per Hindu tradition, soul is always considered to be pious and unafflicted…but the criticism or appraisal is for the person in question….his attributes and how he led his life…
    In case of BT, whether the way he led his life was right or wrong, is debatable…but also i think any issue or person who is debatable and falls in grey area is the perfect fodder for advertisement in media…and a huge source of revenue..no matter whether it affects the common masses or not…!!!

  • Vyuti

    I am no die hard Hindutva type, but I do know that when Ram killed Ravana he asked his brother Laxman to stand at his feet and learn from him, pointing out that though Ravana had done wrong he was a man of knowledge and wisdom. Our conception of evil has never been singular / black and white. I would choose to interpret that the channels behaved well within this tradition, call it Hindu if you so wish to. Dussehra and Holi aare occasions when you choose to recall and give a place to the ‘evil’ and that is a well- considered space. It is too early to decide the place Thackeray will occupy..

  • Natasha

    Sekhri boy, I haven’t been your fan for long, but you got it right this time :) Way to go!

  • jyoti

    what a useless article..crappy piece of writing! came to the site the first time following an interview of Ravish Kumar by Madhu Trehan..liked that so thought will linger around a bit..and then this – came down pretty quick! If this is a piece by the co-founder, can only imagine the quality of the site. I find the comments below more to the point – wondering what the author is even trying to say :) am leaving feeling better – I can write better than the author of this moronic piece!