A thin line between religion and hooliganism

Kanwariya's walking in line

In past few days all roads to the holy sites of Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri have become a nightmare for motorists and local people. Loudspeakers blaring vulgar beats of remixes, Kanwariyas smoking Ganja and ignoring all traffic rules do not at all qualify as a religious procession. Do they exude calmness of a devotee Or austerity of a man on a religious mission? This is a mob, who has got the religious license to squat wherever they want, defecate in what not places and stall traffic for hours…even the police and administration is choosing to look the other way. When I say looking other way, I mean literally. I see it everyday, policemen standing aimlessly in the ridge road area in Delhi, where one of the Kaanwar camp is based. Though a yellow line of tape divides the road into two – one for daily commuters and one for Kanwarias, but still they disrupt the traffic, their fancy chariots bring the traffic to a dead halt and the sudden halt of their motorbikes risk the lives of other motorists .

The nuisance which they create is not limited to traffic snarls alone. To facilitate smooth movement of Kaanwarias, the National Highway between Delhi and Haridwar is closed to the general traffic every year in the Kaanvad season. This has a consequent effect on supply of daily commodities. Also, the hotels, dhabas, shops on the highway close down during this time as Kaanwarias eat at these joints but refuse to pay. And the hooliganism is not limited to this alone, there are incidents of looting, rioting, eve-teasing, molestation, rape, drug-abuse and muchmore.

The Kanvar Yatra is an annual pilgrimage of devotees to Shiva to Hindu pilgrimage sites in Uttarakhand to fetch holy waters of Ganges, which is later offered at their local Shiva temples. But, very few among them are true devotees, rest of them are just unemployed unruly youth, cashing upon subsidized state sponsored festivity. And a majority of them belong to that sensitive age, when one can easily play on their passion and give them a color of religion to create a personal brigade of fanatics. Perhaps that’s why, the number of kaanwarias are increasing every year.
Not meaning to hurt any religion, but frankly sight of men in saffron or green or whatever color of religion, out on a religious procession appear more like a mob to me, which evokes FEAR instead of devotion.

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