continuing my earlier rant about the economics of religion…
I was peacefully walking around with my camera enjoying the colors and general chaos in the little town. In a matter of 10 minutes after entering the main street, I was accosted by at least 7-8 people telling me that they were local Brahmins…
One guy walks up to me and tries to puts flower petals in my hand. I tell him I don’t want it. He says it’s holy and blah blah and he will tell me the story and take me to the ghat for the pooja etc etc and manages to stuff those flowers in my hand. I’m all the more irritated with those flowers because now I can’t click properly.
While this idiot is hounding me, I come across a kid who is dressed up as lord Shiva. I was hoping that while I get busy clicking the kid, this idiot will leave me alone… no such luck, but here is the boy…
Before I click, the boy tells me, its going to cost me 5Rs for a pic. At least he was up-front about his modeling charges. I say sure, and ask him to pose in front of them temple. I would have liked to talk to him a little more, but he had better things to do. All I got to know was his name: Ravi.
As I turn, the idiot is still there and just refuses to leave. I keep walking randomly and he keeps walking with me and talking. I ask him what will it take for him to leave. So he says, just come to the ghat and do the prayer. By now, i’m quite irritated, and decide to go to the ghat. I figured I might as well click something there and hopefully get rid of this guy too.
So now the pundit at the ghat starts of with his prayer stuff, and I look at him blankly and say, here just put these flowers from my side… shukriya. On being forced into a random conversation, I come up with a… “I have a direct connection with god, and he asked me to cut out the middleman”. That has to be the most WTF retort of the day. I walk off, and by now these idiots have figured out that they shouldn’t waste their time on me… I hear some blabbering in the background and choose to ignore.
Sometime during the weekend two of my friends who’re quite well versed with sanskrit shlokas are accosted by these “brahmins” and they are led to the ghat by the “local brahmins”. The pundit there says some random shloka, and my friend completes it. I think that particular shloka didn’t even have any relevance at that time. The pundit is stunned. After the usual, remember parents, grandparents, family, loved ones etc etc the Brahmin goes “repeat after me and now I will donate Rs. 501 for their well being blah blah”. My friend goes “something something, and iske saath mera pranaam sweekar keejiye” (and with this accept my greetings) and puts the flowers in the water. At this point, the pundits face has turned crimson and the color on his face is competing with the colors of the sunset.
He screams no no… it’s not done like this, and the usual. At this point, my friend decides to give him Rs. 101 and walk off. Once again, my friend can’t believe that pundits were capable of such language.
Exactly the same happens with another friend and he walks away after giving Rs. 51. Both are feeling damn irritated because they were genuinely remembering their family and friends.
While returning from Pushkar, we stopped at Ajmer at the Ajmer Sharif dargah. Another place where they have made collection points for extracting money. Tying a moli (holy thread) on your wrist is Rs. 20, doing something else is some more money… another thing some more money. By then I had had enough of all religions, and decided to not enter the dargah at all.
I do think it will be quite an interesting study – the Economics of religion. How money changes hands, how people fool others in the name of religion and such.
Even so, it is much fun watching it ringside. People telling you all kinds of stories trying their level best to make a buck. “Buck”waas was all that I heard.