Today’s morning was very fine here in my city and it became even more gorgeous when I had a south Indian meal in breakfast at one of my friend’s home. 😛 Knowing my likings, he had invited me on several occasions, but somehow or the other I kept delaying it. But today was the day. I love South Indian cuisine, especially the Dosas and Uthapam along with the Sambhar and Chatani.
To tell you the fact, my friend is not from South India. Yet the taste of Dosa was so delicious and sumptuous that I can bet that any South Indian cook would be proud of it. I had the breakfast as in the manner that I am having lunch. One after another, I devoured three Dosas one by one, partly due to the reason that I like it and partly due to the immense pressure from his family especially from his granny.
After having breakfast, I chatted for some time with his family members. His family is having same place of origin as I am having and we both speak same beautiful language “Maithili”. I find his family very decent and everybody in my surrounding having a word of praise for them. I spoke with uncle but the best part during my conversation was with his granny. She would be around mid 70s. She is quite religious and very soft spoken. She speaks in so humble way with me that sometime I wonder how someone can be so modest. Every time I talk with her, I get some life lesson.
As I had some other engagements later in the morning, so I asked permission from them to leave. They all seemed to be very happy that I came there and so was I. When I was leaving, out of respect I bent down to touch the granny’s feet, but she moved backward with a shudder and said “No, no, no, no….don’t dare touch my feet. Do you want that I commit sin?”
I said with anguish, “Why you never let me touch your feet Dadi and what sin are you talking about? Don’t you want to bless me?” Her response was “ You are bigger than me”. I said “Wow! How could that happen! Do I look older than you?” She said smilingly “Beta! You are Brahmins and we are not suppose to let you touch my feet, it’s considered as one of the great sins, which has been taught to us by my ancestors and I am not going to disobey them like your uncle”. I was shocked, ashamed. Uncle never resisted me from touching his feet. Her statement was probably a dig at him. Since I was running out of time I did not plead much and with folded hand I said Namaste and returned back to home.
On returning home, I got to know that my further engagement which I had, got cancelled. So I had free time. The sound of the granny “you are bigger than me” reverberated in my ears. I was forced to contemplate about the caste systems in India among Hindus. I never experienced this divide in recent times and unheard of this untill this moment. Yet the response of granny was shocking to me. I thought in those old days this divide must be very rigid, as much so that it had an indelible imprints on her mind.
I find this cast system as one of the reasons why foreign powers and their culture attacked us from centuries. It was one of the most debilitating factors of backwardness of our society. It is the phenomena which militated against the dignity of the humans.
And I find this caste system in today’s context as pernicious as it was ever before. Some political outfits are using this divide to gain their political leverage. Some netas, like Britishers, believe in the philosophy of “divide and rule”. They want that whole population should be divided on the cast line so that they could not stand together on the developmental issues. With this they are able to maximize their interest. Now is the time when we should relinquish all our identities and should stand for the cause of building a more secular, tolerant and accommodating society and nation.
Although the Constitution of India guarantees that there should be no discrimination of the basis of caste, gender, religion, place of birth etc. but these things has to be dealt on the societal level, and cannot be completely enforced by law alone. The onus is on current generation, we should thrive for a society where no elder should feel blessing the younger as sin and prevents touching feet.