TODAY -

Diversity : The essence of India

Kajal Chatterjee *



As I stepped into Vellore Fort, the lofty Jalakandeshwarar Temple came into my immediate attention. The temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was built during the reign of Vijayanagaram King Sadasivadeva Maharaya. After visiting the temple, as I was exploring the Fort, found myself in front of the Chand Sahib Mosque- - -a rectanglular lime and brick structure, built by Nawab Chand Sahib of Carnatic empire.

In another corner of the fort complex exists St. John's Church- - -built by the erstwhile Government of Madras for the officers and staff of East India Company.

There are innumerable shrines of all religious groups throughout the country; but these 3 shrines are not only located in a single town, rather make its divine presence felt within a single complex named Vellore Fort in Tamil Nadu !

Though it remains the fact that no single political entity has built up all these shrines; it remains that these Temples, Mosques, Churches are all assets or legacy of medieval India - - -heterogeneous since centuries with amalgamation of cultures around the globe.

Then the home-bound train journey was another reflection of the land of the remarkable diversity named India !

Not only did Tamil signboards, as in Katpadi Junction, yield place to Telugu version as the train crossed into Andhra Pradesh; the rocky terrain and barren hillocks of Vellore region also gave away to lush green fertile plains of Rayalaseema with forested hills of various shapes and sizes appearing in the horizon!

Next morning Odiya signboards greeted me at Berhampore with increased greenery. Not to speak of the typical Kalinga style architecture of the temples right upto Balasore! Then Danton Railway station welcomes us with Bangla script!

And what an amalgamation of religious heterogeneity witnessed around the railway track in Southern Andhra Pradesh ! Amidst green fields and hills, the rural habitations were presenting us with unique frames - - - Temple and Mosque, Mosque and Church or Church and Temple !

Though not known exactly what is the historical social cultural context of the region, there lies no doubt to the fact that Southern Andhra is an astonishing beautiful salad bowl (all ingredients coexisting close to each other by keeping respective identities intact) of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity !

Though the stretch from Tamil Nadu to West Bengal, along the Eastern coast, represents a mere slice of this vast country; still it bears testimony to all sorts of diversities which form the hallmark of India! And this colourful mosaic of innumerable languages, religion, race, architecture, geographical features ie this essence of diversity is the best thing about being an Indian.

However, it must also be kept in mind that true love and respect merit constructive criticism as well, else complacency and vanity are bound to denigrate our object of affection also.

So mere shout of "I love my India" will not save my dear country from destruction if we do not learn to stand unitedly and protest against the dark forces which are hell-bent on demolishing the Idea of India by posing grave assault upon its very foundation ie diversity.

By imposing a particular religious lingual, casteist school of thought upon this heterogeneous country, a very orthodox imperialist camp is working all-out to kill the diversities in the name of "unifying" the Nation !

So if we truly love India or desire to retain the best thing about being an Indian, we must also challenge the divisive elements so that the merchants of hatred can be permanently uprooted from this great country of ours.

In these vitiated times of hatred and dominant mindset with fanatic display of muscle; Vellore Fort represents the divine essence of multi cultural India.

Let this amalgamation continue to thrive in this country not only for the sake of humanity, but also for the survival of "Bharat Tirtha" (the pilgrimage named India) as envisaged by Rabindranath Tagore while welcoming and embracing diversities of all possible hues.


* Kajal Chatterjee wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on February 16 2023.



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