The temple across the road from my house has really started annoying me. The priest has one tape, of supposedly “devotional” songs and this morning he thought it appropriate to play it on the loudspeaker at 5:30, startling me and waking me up.
This is not the first time he has done so, either. He has been a consistent offender. Earlier, the tape would go on at around 7:30, after we had woken up so it didn’t really affect me so much – I’d put on my own music to drown the offending noise and all would be fine. Of late, though, the bugger seems to be getting to his temple early, and he considers it his sacred duty to wake up the locality with his noise.
Polite attempts (by the wife) to ask him to turn down the volume have had no impact. I’m told over ten years back my grandmother-in-law (known in her time to have been an extremely strong and clever woman) had tried her own methods to silence him, but had failed and given up (one of her rare failures, according to the wife). One of the things she had apparently tried was to threaten to call in the cops. It didn’t work.
As we lay tossing and turning in bed this morning having been rudely woken up by the temple noise, we thought of strategies. One was to write out a police complaint, get neighbours to weigh in with their support and go to the cops. Another was to get in touch with the local politicians (corporator, MLA, etc.) and see if they can do something about it.
One thing bothers me about either approach, though – no there is no risk per se, but I don’t think any of this will really work. The problem is the Indian definition of “secularism” – which is not “each citizen will practice his/her own religion in private and the state will not interfere” but instead is “each citizen can make a big loud show of practicing his/her religion and the state will not interfere”.
And so if I go to the cops or the politicians asking them to intervene, one question that will invariably come up is why the temple priest should shut up when there are no restrictions whatsoever on the muezzin’s call. And if you go to the muezzin and ask him to turn down the volume, he’ll agree on the condition that the loudspeakers at the Ganesh pandals be turned down. And thus we will set off on an infinite loop.
This is the sad story with religion in India. Anything goes in the name of religion. If you oppose something done in the name of religion itself, you are being anti-religion, and that is blasphemous.
Anyway, I still have the conundrum of how to deal with the hooligan priest in the temple across the road from my house!