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Conversion of an Atheist : Somebody’s gonna get hurt

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Is it possible to have a secular HICCUP ?
I am a gaseous atheist, who eats, hiccups, burps many a time. It was just that day outside the university campus, when it came out ‘HARI OM’. I used to use slangs earlier to punctuate my gaseous energy, which gradually converted to a hindu chant. I thought somebody in proximity might not like my tamil-delhi hair and sister slang, which I used earlier.

But my friend became serious and he said that you are not secular. Then I tried uttering Gandhi or Ambedkar from my spontaneous internal constitutional energy but could not succeed. May be there is some relation between gas and phonetics of Om, Walekum andShallom, which does not go with hi or ar.

I hardly went to temples even after belonging to a Brahmin family and had received some punches from my mother for not being in the religious ceremony and arguing against miracles. But I have been connected stomachly to the religions: Had ladoos in satynarayan pooja, sewais in the Id festival, wines in Christmas and roti dal in Gurudwara langar. It was also not difficult to consume beef, pork and alcohol either. It was tasty and intoxicating too. I kept on converting till I was thirsty and hungry and needed shelter. I also converted because the other person sounded cool and wanted to follow.

I converted for minutes and hours and days. Whenever I changed my geography I became a minority in some way or the other. I tried converting to my surroundings, as there was always someone getting hurt near me. It was easy for me to make choices and still is, in patriarchal upper caste friendly majoritarian space. In Banks, Post offices, Hospitals, Bureaucracy and even in Media I found there were more male upper caste people. And as soon as they realize where I come from, they gave me more respect than the other person standing next to me.

May be it is just a coincidence that they are everywhere, from state position to the media and even in judiciary, after all it is about efficiency. They must have been following the miracles more intensely and dedicatedly than others.

Being an atheist does make life hard in daily lives because you are surrounded by religious spaces around you. And in India, religion can be used to mystify and occupy public spaces. You can show off being religious or have a tattoo of Om for fun. And yes you can bravely walk with a swastik sign in places like Goa, even if you are German.

Most of the ceremonies related to religions are propagated to kilometres from their origin. And why not! They are saying something sacred and holy, which other people should listen to and get purified through their ears. If one counts, these concerts of religion uses more mics and employs more people than any event management company or music festival. They are actually providers of livelihood and sound energy. And you cannot decide to receive which one, you can be just grateful to be there. Just hear, earn or spend.

And if you don’t believe in miracles don’t worry you are not the only one. Google it! Keep converting because Some miracles are/were more miraculous than others !

Some Facts:
-India is rated as one of the most vulnerable place for atheist,non religious people. Freedom of Thought 2014: A Global Report on Discrimination Against Humanists, Atheists, and the Non-religious; Their Human Rights and Legal Status, was created by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). The International Humanist and Ethical Union is the world union of more than 120 Humanist, atheist, rationalist, secular, ethical culture, and free thought organizations from more than 40 countries. Its mission is to represent and support the global Humanist movement, build a world in which human rights are respected and all can live a life of dignity.

-In September 2014, The Bombay high court has upheld a citizen’s right to claim of “no religion” and asked the government to notify a person’s wish to disown his or her religion.The court issued the order while disposing off the petition filed by Full Gospel Church of God which wanted the government to notify that  its 4,000 members were not Christians and they belong to “no religion”. The court agreed with the view of the petitioners and said: “The state has no religion. There is a complete freedom for every individual to decide whether he wants to adopt or profess any religion or not. He may not believe in any religion. If he is professing a particular region, he can give up the religion and claim that he does not belong to any religion. There is no law which compels a citizen or any individual to have a religion”.

-On August 20, 2013, leading anti-superstition campaigner Narendra Dabholkar was shot and killed by two men on a motorbike. Dabholkar was a long-time activist in India’s rationalist movement and a leader of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Association, a member organization of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.  

-April 2012, the Catholic Church filed a complaint under Section 295 of the country’s penal code against Sanal Edamaruku , president of the Indian Rationalist Association. Edamaruku had reportedly exposed a supposed “miracle” by revealing that a weeping  Jesus on the cross was actually the result of a leaky drain. The local police requested Edamaruku turn himself in and face the charges. He now lives in exile in Finland.

The first PIL on the issue was filed in 2012 by a law student Shreya Singhal, who sought amendment in Section 66A of the Act, after two girls – Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan – were arrested in Palghar in Thane district as one of them posted a comment against the shutdown in Mumbai following Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s death and the other ‘liked’ it.

And just in case you got hurt:
“Insult” and “blasphemy” Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises insult to religion; it allows up to three years imprisonment and fines for “whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of a class.”

In 2011 the Indian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology issued new rules requiring operators of social media networks to screen and remove blasphemous content within 36 hours of receiving a complaint.

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