Dead Serious

Death. The instant image makeover for Bal Thackeray?

WrittenBy:Abhinandan Sekhri
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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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