Wednesday, May 12, 2021

How the term 'Ganga Jamuni' symbolising communal harmony became controversial, invites ire online


Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

The term 'Ganga Jamuni' has been in vogue for a long time.

It symbolized communal harmony or a composite culture, basically--mutual respect and coexistence.

People these days interpret it differently. To some it means 'equal respect for each others faiths'. 

Some feel that it has come to reflect 'co-opt or get absorbed as the smaller stream joins the river and becomes part of it, losing its own identity'.

Though the term was commonly used in Awadh, it was equally in circulation in Bhopal, Deccan or many other parts of India. In fact, not just UP, in any district of Rajasthan-MP too, papers write, 'our city has a ganga jamni culture', even if city has seen numerous conflicts or never even witnessed a single riot. 

So it became common over the years. The term is frequently used & understood differently by different people. But basically it should be about harmony and mutual respect. Doesn't mean that any Muslim will go to temple or a Hindu has to visit mosque or attend-host 'iftaar'. 

There should not be any onus, anything to prove. It's more about the concept of 'yours to you, mine to me', just that I wish you well on your things. But then somehow people came to believe that it means, 'I need to do those things to please you'. No. Not to do certain things just to adapt, 'co-opt' or 'fit in'.

Wish each other well, respect each other, that's all

On your festival I wish you well, on my festival you may wish or not even that's your choice. But to expect that someone else will follow your rituals is totally wrong. If anyone in individual capacity does anything, it's their choice. But to brand entire regions, areas then point fingers is incorrect.

It's a vast country, local cultures. For example, pictures about Muslims taking part in certain celebrations, come from Maharashtra every year. So you can't pass judgment on entire Maharashtra Muslims or Uttar Pradesh Muslims or Hindus or anyone else. It's sad that people just make up mind and then target entire regions, people and refuse to see beyond it.

Don't generalize: Opportunist people misuse, push own agenda, expose them

A crafty person can play any role, to suit his personal agenda or for political reasons, but this doesn't mean that you count 5-10-15 people and blame 'all'. Idea should be of goodwill, do things that help everyone, people from your and other communities, no need for subjugation.

Opportunism of people or politicians' attempts to please others and go extra-mile, can not be linked to a term and then used to target people of an entire state, create impression that these people do nothing, are just involved in poetry, fun and happily see their own decline. 

This has gone for too long. Name the opportunists, who do it, NOT everyone. Don't generalize. For example, there were comments when a politician who became Governor was performing puja, and lot of people termed it 'Ganga Jamuni'. 

Author Yusuf Ansari says it clearly, "This has nothing to do with “Ganga-Jamuni” which is about accommodation. It is not about assimilation based on compromise, skullduggery, batshittery and downright treachery; all things this vile, despicable man (don’t even want to take his name) has perfected into an art form".

It is basically, whataboutery and media manipulation that has affected society. Otherwise, in any society, there is need for basic mutual respect among communities. No one needs to follow others' rituals. There must not be any compulsion or force to prove something. 

Ideally, there should be 'rule of law' in real sense. Those who indulge in hate speech, dividing society and spreading communalism or discrimination need to be dealt with sternly. Especially, those who, even after taking vow of constitution, cause a divide in society. [The photo is merely for representational purpose]

READ: Hindu wearing skull cap or Muslim performing Hindu ritual must NOT be an issue