Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Celebrations at the Margin

The tempo is building up to a crescendo for the celebration of Valentine's Day on February 14th. Matters have hotted up with the Sangh Parivar units declaring that they will marry off couples seen together on that day. This has prompted people who would not normally have done anything on the day to announce that they will go out of their way to romance in public to challenge the moral policing of the Sanghis. Either way it is a win win situation for the corporations which have been pushing this celebration of love and coaxing people to consume more in various ways. However, there is no coverage in the media of yet another celebration that is held on this day - One Billion Rising. This is the annual celebration of an ongoing movement that began two years ago to end gender based violence and gets its name from the statistic that every year one billion women are victims of some form of gender based violence or other and this must stop. Despite having a global character this movement has not got much media attention as it is marginalised by the inane programming around Valentine's Day. The contrived romanticism of Valentine's Day in fact masks the harsh reality of gender based violence which severely restricts the freedom of women across the world whether in the rich nations or the poor.
Belatedly, I would like to write about another celebration at the margin which has been going on now for more than two decades, once again without any media publicity. This is the annual celebration of the robust cultural uniqueness of the tribals of Western India on January 14th. Over two lakhs of tribals from the States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra congregate at one place which is selected by turns in each of the four states and enjoy their cultural heritage and also discuss how to keep it alive in the modern world in which there is a continuous onslaught from such consumerist media sponsored events like the Valentine's Day. This congregation takes place under the aegis of the Adivasi Ekta Parishad and is totally funded by the Adivasi members of this organisation spread across the four States of western India.
This year there were many yatras or marches that from various corners of western India that converged on Nanduri village in Nashik district of Maharashtra for the celebration aggregating people on the way. One such began in Ratlam district of Madhya Pradesh and passed through Alirajpur on its way to Nanduri. A public meeting was held on the occasion in Alirajpur followed by a group discussion whose participants are shown below.
    The members of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangath also joined the Yatra and proceeded to Nanduri with it holding many meetings on the way. One of the major cultural planks of the Adivasi Ekta Parishad in the context of the Sangh Parivar's orchestrated campaign for "Ghar Wapsi" or reconversion of people of other religions to Hinduism is that the original cultural home of all humanity and especially those in India was the animism of the tribals and therefore logically returning home would actually mean adoption of the traditional animism of the tribals. The Ekta Parishad has an active ongoing campaign to establish the nature friendly animist culture and religion of the tribals as the dominant cultural paradigm. Not surprisingly the mainstream media does not see it fit to give publicity to this long standing cultural movement of the tribals of western India. However, the KMCS having a good presence in Alirajpur, succeeded in getting the event publicised in the local editions of mainstream newspapers, which headlined the main slogan, that the Bhils have a right to preserve and promote their traditional culture as guaranteed in the Constitution of India -
The power and reach of the capitalist media is very great and so it succeeds in getting a considerable number of people to celebrate trivial events like Valentine's Day but that does not mean that the celebrations at the margin are going to die out. This year in fact for the first time the culture of the Bhil tribals of Jhabua district received national recognition when the tableaux prepared by the Madhya Pradesh Government for the Republic Day celebrations on January 26th was had Bhil culture as its theme. The Adivasi Ekta Parishad has created enough critical mass following around the idea of preserving and promoting Adivasi culture to have made the Governments in all four States of western India to sit up and take notice.

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