Monday, 31 October 2011

What's in a Religion..err.. Caste..err..Surname?

Juliet:"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet meet and fall in love in Shakespeare's lyrical tale of "star-cross'd" lovers. They are doomed from the start as members of two warring families. Here Juliet tells Romeo that a name is an artificial and meaningless convention, and that she loves the person who is called "Montague", not the Montague name and not the Montague family. Romeo, out of his passion for Juliet, rejects his family name and vows, as Juliet asks, to "deny (his) father" and instead be "new baptized" as Juliet's lover. This one short line encapsulates the central struggle and tragedy of the play.

So this was about name...and in our society name, surname and religion are intrinsically related. We identify a person's caste, religion based on their surnames. A person may be very honest, truthful, or courageous but as soon as the surname is revealed all things are flushed and what remains are the preconceived notions related to that caste or religion. I have always wondered why judge a person by his/her name when we have a better way of knowing the person face to face.

What difference will it make whether a person is a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jew, or Christian....these are just their ways of worshiping the almighty. We all have our own believes so why judge a person by his way of praying.

Another way of deciding a person's behavior is caste. You say your surname to anyone in this country and a sketch of your behavior is already in place. Any change in that means you are not true to your caste. And your every move is "scrutinized" based on it. The social restrictions based on caste have also shaped the economic activities taken up by people. Caste related violence and politics are common.

Not just this there is distinction based on regions too (like religion and caste were not enough to divide and rule us). And the best thing is "Unity in diversity" is just a slogan now to describe India. Every region believes that it is the best.

Here is the summary of various tidbits I collected based partly on hearsay and partly by observation.
1. Punjabis
Believe in PDA (public display of affection), show-offs, spend more than they can afford, shrewd.
2. Biharis
Polite Hindi speaking, more inclined towards public services and politics, hardworking, values commitment, life-long friends, have something to say every time, ready to kill or die for anything that they feel is right.
3. Malayalees ( Mallus)
Systematic, Neat, Short-tempered, would readily help other mallus, a close community, great minds.
4. Maharashtrians (Marathis)
Culture loving, fanatics (for good and for bad), extremely loyal to their state.
5. Bengalis (Bongs)
Love their state too much, language and culture, artistically oriented, a bit loud, believe-in-me-first, a close community, great taste in food.
6. Gujratis (Gujjus)
Laid back, great business mind, live-to-eat, loud, stairs and a swing in every house is a must.
7. Tamilians (madrasi)
Religious, artistically inclined, good sloggers, timid, too rigid, less tolerant.
8. Rajasthanis (Marwaris included)
Money matters more than anything, caste rigid, views everyone as dishonest, selfish, substantial diaspora, opportunists.
Though there are exceptions to the above but I feel that nature of a person is the result of the environment he is growing up in and that very well constitutes the region.

The state "India" is what I dream about...where all these distinctions will merely be a matter of past.

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