The full and correct title in my mind would be: Should We Not ‘Say No to New Year Celebrations of these kind?’ Do read on.
They had finished their supper and were gathered once again in the hall for what had become their Favourite time, that of Discussions. As usual, Mr. Ilango was the undeclared ‘chair.’
Yesudas too was there. He had come the The Haveli upon the insistent invitation of Vijendra, and had been there ever since. He was in Trichy at Yoha’s place because he liked Mr. Ilango, and her family being Christians, had come over to celebrate the festival with them. He very much liked singing the Carols Chorally, with others.
This time he opened the discussion, which he normally did not do, by stating:
“I too say No to these New Year celebrations.”
A chill seemed to run through the whole gathering. They were used to shocking statements, yet New Year having become a ‘part’ of the calendar of events, were wondering just Why he should say that.
Mr. Ilango had picked it up immediately. Normally one of the younger ones in the group would have asked a question at a statement like that, but the grand old man said: “I noticed Your emphasis on the word ‘these,’ Swamiji. Kindly elaborate.”
“The celebration of the New Year has always been celebrated over centuries by various peoples and cultures. People Thank the Lord for all the blessings received in the previous year, and ask for the New Year to be a blessed one as well.
“Celebrations being far and few for the Common man, the New Year has mostly been held in festive spirits.
“I made my statement in light of, and in Concurrence with, the protests against holding these celebrations in India, notably in Mumbai and then in Karnataka. I see and appreciate the point they are trying to make, – Only, they are not making it too well.
“The point is that New Year celebrations, – let’s take only the case in India, – of late have taken the form of many visiting clubs, which naturally seems to mean Drinking, and on the stroke of mid-night of the thirty first, taking to the streets and wishing one another. Unpalatably, this has taken the form of even hugging strangers.”
“C’mon, Swamiji, what is wrong with hugging? You do it Yourself?” asked one of the bold young men in the group.
Mrs. Bernard, Yoha’s mother, decided to step in. She changed her seat and went and sat near him on the sofa. “I am sure, my Dear Sudha, that You and we all in our family know, the difference between hugging in the a-sexual and the sexual way; and hugging that leads to, or is part of sex.
“As I noticed at The Haveli, and in our family, we like and encourage being and sitting close to one another. A pat or a hand on the shoulder saying so much, we go further.
“Sexuality is very much in the mind. Sexual thoughts and inclinations do not even rise between parents and children, or between brothers and sisters.
“Can we say the same for and about those who are not related to us in these ways?” she asked.
“Let me particularly address Sudha’s question, and speak especially perhaps to You young people just now,” said Yesudas. “Even in our family dealings, we will notice that gradually our behaviour changes, in that as we become aware of our own, – and sexuality in general, we do not hug so much, particularly members of the opposite sex, sit on laps, etc. This has become part of our Culture.
“Do we all not know that the Body reacts in particular ways to stimulus with sexual content, without the mind necessarily stepping in? Sexual arousal is Not Voluntary.
“Isn’t there a difference between looking at a Beautiful face and feeling a glow, and how attention to sexual parts of the body produces titillation?
“Pleasure through titillation for one might lead to high repugnance in the other! For instance, let us say a girl decides to go for a midnight celebration, – like New Year’s, and while they are coming back, they are accosted by men and boys on motorcycles, who stop people, grab and grope, as has frequently happened, and seems to happen on such nights. A girl’s lone escort will Not be able to prevent or put a stop to it.
“The Body does like being touched, but when it becomes over-insistent and unwanted, the same touching becomes highly unpleasant. There is a difference between sex with one’s life partner and rape, after all!
“Of course politicians, officials and even judges pretend as if it is no big deal; but let it happen to a member of their household, – they will scream to high heaven,” said Mr. Bernard, Yoha’s father.
“Do You remember, when Gang rapes had taken place, one politician, who was even the Chief minister of Uttar Pradesh at that time, Mulayam Singh Yadav, had said that Boys will be boys! Such a Crass, Stupid and Inhuman statement I have Never heard,” said Yoha’s mother.
“To come back,” began again Yesudas, “the New Year celebrations many are objecting to take the form of big gatherings in some public place, – the public, which consists mostly of youth, having had quite a few pegs during the while, – when at the stroke of midnight crackpots let off firecrackers, and it is mayhem for a while.
Above: At New York.
“I suppose kissing and huggings take place, and it is coming into practice that they hug strangers too. This is purely aping Western customs.
“This hugging of strangers, which would be out of sheer joy and exuberance, a sense of wishing others well, and maybe even quite innocent, is the key, I would say, that develops into an unwanted malaise.
“In this way: The scum of the Society take this as a licence to hug back in return. Where the first instance had been with mutual consent, this way-laying on the streets and forcibly hugging and doing worse is evidently without mutual consent.”
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“Yes, I think I understand what You mean. I have been to a festival called Aadi Pathinettu, a celebration on the eighteenth day of the Tamil month of Aadi, when people just flock to the river banks. Pujas are done, and the whole thing takes the form of a fair or fete.
“One really Nasty part of it, – not a sanctioned one, – is that groups of roving boys will dash against the girls, not painfully but yet intentionally, chest against the breasts or from the back, without any use of the hands, laugh and move away. It is a perverted kind of sexual satisfaction.
[ No graphics available for this, Naturally. ]
“The girls take no ‘active’ part in that, except that they turn up year after year, knowing that it is going to happen! But it is a ‘religious’ festival, and as such it is not going to stop, of course.
“Police-women are deployed, but it goes to such an extent that the boys are not only Not deterred by that, they dash against the female constables themselves!”
“Many of the things of which we are speaking will be downright denied; we have to remember that. Anyway, we are not in a court of law,” said Mr. Ilango.
“It is Very different from the Kumbh mela at the Sangam, etc, where larger numbers gather, but the sexes are segregated, and no untoward things of this sort happen.
“But I can see the difference in what You are raising, Swamiji,” Punita continued, “in these so called New Year celebrations, the girls, having ‘participated,’ actively, in hugging others, have created the ‘opening’ that allows those way-layings,” she concluded.
“But why are the police and the administration not allowing performances by Sunny Leone, etc?” asked somebody.
“There must be two reasons, and it is not just to Sunny Leone alone that permission is being denied.
“Their kind of ‘music,’ so much liked by the youth today, followed and dished out by many Indian artists as well, is Less to do with Lyrics or the Tune, and has Everything to do with the Beat.
“It is the Chest Rattling, Ear Shattering, Jungle beat that has become the norm. It raises Primitive emotions and turns people into Primates, laying way to Jungle-behaviour.
“Add to that the costumes worn by these artists, who all believe in showing their Thighs, and turn up in all sorts of glorified bra’s and panties, leaving very little to Imagination.
Above: The beginning of a Sunny Leone song.
“It would be Very, Very foolish to think or to say that people do not get sexually aroused by watching these things.
“On the one hand, Each Human being, Female Or Male, wants their partner to be True to him or her alone; Each human being wants a Virgin, the Wife would rather see her husband dead than in the arms of another woman, it is said, yet we permit and indulge in behaviour that goes against our basic and Sane wishes.
“That is why Sunny Leone’s kind of performances are opposed, even though the opposers do funny things themselves, and do it in peculiar ways,” said Yesudas.
“As You say, Swamiji, we certainly do not need New Year celebrations like that,” summed up Mohan.