If for some reason you are wondering why I (who usually has something to say about everything) stayed away from the Vande Mataram controversy, here is an explanation of sorts before I start on the Onam issue.
Vande Mataram is our national song. Let’s just leave it at that. Nobody is forcing anyone to sing it. I don’t think most of us would even know past the first two lines. I don’t for sure. But I do like the song, I bought AR Rehman’s album and I liked its video by Bharat Bala.
Why is it offending? I seriously can’t figure that out. Neither am I sure if I want to either as this whole issue seems B grade political. I don’t think there is a reason for anyone to justify why she/he wants to sing it or not sing it. It’s a personal choice.
Now. I have a far more serious issue. It’s about Onam. The management and principal of AWH Engineering College, Kozhikode (Calicut) have decided not to allow Onam celebrations in its campus because it’s “religious”. I like to point out that AWM is a Muslim minority institution. The students are protesting and the college have been closed indefinitely.
I would like to inform the AWH college management that our King Mahabali is not going to be very happy about this. Maybe this year when he comes visiting, her might throw you across the Mullaperiyar dam.
Four years ago on Onam day, I had the rare honour of being a guest of HRH Princess Aswathi Tirunal Gouri Lakshmi Bayi of Travancore. We spoke for over an hour and as I was leaving she put her hand on my head and said, “May Lord Padmanabha guide you on your quests, do our land proud.” I was touched.
Onam for me is a celebration of my culture. It has nothing to with my religion but has everything to do with the land that gave birth to my forefathers and me.