“Don’t post the photo of the rangoli online, ma’am “, said the PT instructor in the school. The rangoli in question was of a magnificent peacock entwined with the Indian flag ; the crisp white outlines enclosing the iridescent blue rangoli powder that contrasted sharply against the saffron, white and green . The children and the art teacher had been painstakingly working on it.
We looked at her quizzically . She apologetically explained, “the design has the flag of India and it’s on the floor . It may offend someone that the flag was made on the floor .” We nodded and accepted the explanation. No one pointed the obvious that it was a rangoli which is traditionally made on the floor and the pattern itself was an artistic interpretation .
The auditorium continued to buzz with activity as tricolour buntings were hung and every now and then an excited voice would pipe up, “Happy Independence Day ma’am .”
Yes! We live in exciting times peopled with folks with delicate constitutions who scream and holler , picket and troll , take out protest marches , file cases in the court and many times smash public property to express their hurt. Any random thing can trigger it , be it books , movies , names of the movies, names of roads, villages, cities ,states , quotes and comments by celebrities, comic sketches, artwork,fashion , food …Whew!The list is extensive . The rangoli might just make the cut .
I came back home and glanced at the day’s newspaper and coincidentally it also had a story on the same under the tag ‘free the flag’. According to it , our celebrities , by their seemingly deliberate actions ,had managed to offend the uber patriotic people across the country , either by draping the flag , wearing the flag motif ,cutting a tricolour cake and so on. It was akin to insulting the flag. Sounds silly, right? I know I am confused.
Isn’t it strange how quickly we take offence and impose our sensibilities and choices on others through brute force or fear ? All this in spite of living in a nation that grants us the freedom to think and express. On the hindsight, I regret that I never clicked the rangoli’s photograph and instead gave into the fears of upsetting the faceless patriots.
Tagore rightly wrote this many years ago, “where the mind is without fear and the head is held high , into that heaven of freedom my Father, let my country awake.” . It still remains the need of the hour
Let’s free our minds .