Statue, they said and… we lost!

Statue, they said and… we lost!

(You know this game, the children play…One says ‘Statue’ to the other and the other loses if he makes a false move!)

No sooner than the dust settled in Maharashtra following riots of indignation and protest over the desecration of an Ambedkar statue in faraway UP, there has been one more nearer home.
This time in Srirangam, Trichy, a famed temple town in TN.

For reasons best known to vested interests in political circles, some Dravidian outfit following his school of thought felt the statue of their renowned atheist and rationalist founder Periyar EVR should be facing the Rajagopuram at the front entrance of Ranganatha swami temple in Srirangam… It was already shrouded in controversy, I hear..

No sooner had Dec 6 , the annual black day of Babri Masjid demolition had just come and gone without any major incident, than some Hindu katchi( party in Tamil) activists climbed over what they felt was a blasphemous indignity of a statue, a threat to devout Hindus and damaged it with hammers in the wee hours and the security was literally caught napping.
Soon they were caught and expectedly there was a backlash from the other group, tension in the town and so the rest is everyday news…

‘Oh, that’s all huh?’ you can smirk…
‘This has been going on since Mughal invasion’, we shrug. Of course, we damn them as iconoclastic fanatics and all that…
‘So what’s new in this incident’, you would ask …
Nothing, I should say …But that is precisely the reason I am writing this piece.

Why is this considered ‘nothing’?

Why does such vandalism and hurting sentiments of one community or the other not merit any concern or action from powers- that- be?

Neither does one group have any social responsibility and maturity for insisting on an atheist’s statue in front of a temple (What is it doing there anyway… praying, for God’s sake?), nor does the aggrieved community have any restraint or respect for the law of the land.
In fact one never knows who insulted EVR in this case, anyway… The ones who put up a statue of such an outspoken atheist in front of a temple or the ones who damaged it?

It was only the other day in another town someone smeared sandal paste and ‘vibuthi’ on a EVR’s statue’s forehead and rationalist group cried foul calling it ‘an insult to his ideology’ and ‘Tamil pride’. Everyone from CM Karunanidhi downwards in the Assembly jumped up and down condemning this ‘atrocity’…

Should we say we are caught in a kind of fanatical time warp here, sliding back to ‘stone age’, literally by putting up and pulling down statues all over the place…?

Don’t we still remember the dastardly demolition of a stone Buddha in Afghanistan by Taliban some years ago?

I had just digested this news when I saw in today’s papers about MGR’s statue being unveiled in Parliament coinciding with DMK’s Murasoli Maran’s…One for the DMK and the other for ADMK both inside the Parliament in New Delhi..
‘What more would they want’, you may well ask.

Well, both the parties bickered that the ‘other party’ did not attend ‘its’ leader’s statue unveiling and made familiar clichéd allegations ascribing the reasons…

So far as I know, we are yet to resolve the decade or so long disputed issue of Thiruvalluvar statue which is shrouded in cloak, yet to see the light of the day near Ulsoor Lake, Bangalore…

Oh, yes, speaking for the Kannada protagonists, their film-makers can make , sorry
‘re-make’ Tamil films lifting the original themes and tunes too, by the dozens every year but one Saint Thiruvalluvar statue would somehow give them the ulcers.
They want Kannada‘s legendary poet Sarvagna’s statue on Marina Beach in Chennai.. I am not sure I have an update on this…As far as I know, the status quo sadly remains…I am sure this sadly reflects the lack of political will on the part of both the States…

On the part of Tamils, the extreme elements amongst them unnecessarily take refuge in ‘Veerappans’ and ‘Nedumarans’ to force their hegemony in Karnataka…Demanding Tamil as a second language and promoting such funny and foolhardy demands.

Only, bad blood brews thus and sometimes spills over to the streets as well…
May be someone stands to gain by all this; I dare say, the familiar whipping boys being the politicians of course…

Well, what happens to the statues AFTER they are unveiled is even more shameful.
No one including the avowed supporters even bother to look at them or maintain the vicinity clean except on their respective anniversaries, like a drill every year! The garlands and buntings rot and fall away all around.

All the time statue stands forlorn, a mute testimony to avoidable expense and acrimony.

The other day on the Marina Beach, someone was spitting betel juice on the pedestal of a statue I did not recognise( But I am sure the idol did not deserve it, though!!) and a drunk vagrant old man slept below Gandhiji’s, unmindful of the Holiday crowds and noise..


I chuckled and moved on…

3 responses to “Statue, they said and… we lost!

  1. I quote:”People who deserve monuments do not need them”.Another celebrity is reported to have said that he would not like a statue of his to be erected anywhere at any time because he did not want bird excrement collecting on his statue.I believe a simple way out is not to permit statues of ANYONE, however great he may have been to come up on public property.Instead let the admirers emulate him. If his admirers insist, let there be any number of statues of any number of celebrities put up on private property.This will ensure the following:The statue will be well maintained.There will be no desecration (hopefully).There will be no controversies on who deserves a statue to be erected with public funds.Controversial characters like Stalin, Saddam Hussain and others will face no danger of their statues being pulled down under another regime.Tamilians are particularly well know for “Statue” culture.Deification comes easily and naturally to the Tamilians.I think it is safe to say that the maximum number of statues anywhere in India are in Tamilnadu.They even go to ridiculous extremes like building temples to cine actresses.Fan clubs go overboard.I won’t be surprised if there is a proposal for a statue of Veerappan erected sometime in future.Jayalalitha has surprised me by not having a statue of herself erected so far.May be she will do so as soon as she returns to power.But will Karunanidhi retain it if he returns to power again ? Won’t his fans erect one of him too ?They have taken turns to arrest each other. May be they will take turns and use statues as their weapons next.G Vishwanath

  2. What do you have against Sarvagna’s statue in Tamilnad? There are lots of kannadigas in Chennai who would be pleased and feel honoured that they have been acknowledged, if that happens. If you want to sound pseudo-liberal and demand that we have Tiruvalluvar’s statue in Bangalore but think that it’s not fair to demand Sarvagna’s statue, you are making a fool of yourself.

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