Electronic Media and Hindu Sentiments – I
by Thamizhchelvan on 26 Oct 2009 42 Comments

[Tamil Hindus have noted an increasingly anti-Hindu bias in the electronic media. Recently, a programme telecast by Vijay TV of ‘Star TV’ Group on 11 October, in Tamil, ridiculed the Hindu cultural practice of married women wearing Mangalsutras and insulted Hindu women. There is growing concern that this is part of a concerted socio-political move to defame and delegitimise all aspects of Hindu tradition in public life – Editor]
The sanctity of Mangalsutra

“Mangalyathaaranam’ or the tying of Mangalsutra is the most important ritual in the Hindu marriage. The Mangalsutra, sacred symbol of marriage in all Hindu groups, is known as ‘Mangala Naan’ or ‘Mangala Mani’ or simply ‘Thaali’ in Tamil. Even an ordinary thread soaked in turmeric solution and tied with a small turmeric piece is considered as Thaali, because turmeric is attached with divinity, as it is one of the important ingredients in puja; hence the turmeric thread has the sanctity of a Mangalsutra.

Musical instruments (Nagaswaram, Thavil) are played at the time of the tying of Mangalsutra at full volume, so that any bad words being mouthed by anyone in the marriage hall may not fall in the ears of the bride and bridegroom. The Mangalsutra is tied around the neck of a woman so that she is recognised by all as one who is married to another man and respected. A married woman should never desire another man. The ‘Thaali is like a Veli’ (Mangalsutra is like a fence) protecting her, and she must not transgress it. Tamil Nadu even had a king by name ‘Thalikku Veli’… 

Agni (fire) plays the role of ‘witness’ in the marriage ritual, a witness not only for the wellbeing of the couple, but also for their character. If they are not sincere to each other and become characterless, Agni burns their heart and mind and punishes them. That is also reason a woman of character is known as “Karpukkanal” (‘Karpu’ = chastity; ‘Kanal’ = Agni).

The groom puts three knots while tying the Mangalsutra around the neck of the bride to ensure her character: the first knot indicates that she is obedient to her husband, the second that she is docile to her parents and the third that she fears God. It can also be termed as “Kaappu” (protection) that she gets from her husband, parents and God. Both the bride and bridegroom are tied a “Kaappu” in their hands symbolizing that she is ensured of her protection and he assures her his protection.

Hinduism is the only religion which projects woman as Devi and her husband as a devotee (bhakta) making their life happy.

Hey Hinduism! You have made the life happy by projecting the woman as Goddess and laying a fencing of chastity around her! I love you like my life!”
- Poet Kannadasan in “Meaningful Hinduism” (Arthamulla Inthu Matham)   

It is our culture to look upon a married woman as a mother. The Mangalsutra is not a decorative item. It is a symbol of culture; it is a symbol of divinity; it is a symbol of chastity; it is a symbol indicating the sanctity of marriage; it is a symbol projecting the renowned Bharatiya Hindu culture. 

Our culture survived the oppression of Islamic and Christian invaders for centuries. But in the half century since independence, particularly the last three decades, our culture has undergone severe changes for the worse. Westernization and the assault of anti-Hindu forces, continuing alien system of education, self-centered politicians and their misrule and the irresponsible foreign-controlled mainstream media have together taken a heavy toll on our cultural heritage, driving it along the path of destruction.  

Christian Media House insulting Hindus

As a milestone on this destructive path, Chennai based ‘Vijay TV,’ part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire (Star TV Group), has been telecasting a programme titled “Neeyaa Naanaa” (You or Me – Tum aur Mein) every Sunday for over two years. It is produced by another Christian production company called Mercury Creations; the CEO is one Antony. The programme is anchored by one Gopinath, also a Christian. It is basically a discussion forum wherein two teams (one ‘for’ and one ‘against’) debate a subject before a chief guest (a supposed celebrity), and finally the chief guest and anchor declare their ‘verdict’ in conformity with the ‘motive’ of the producer firm. 

It has been noticed that this company invariably takes Hindu oriented subjects for discussion, and demeans Hindu culture, insults Hindu tradition and wounds the religious sentiments of Hindus, planting seeds of poison in the minds of gullible viewers (mostly Hindus) so that they suspect and distrust their own cultural heritage and religious traditions. 

A few weeks ago, for instance, the channel telecast a debate: “Do we need to worship the Kula Devatas?” The debate was organized between ‘elders’ and ‘youngsters’, elders talking about Kula Devata worship and youngsters against it. It programme would certainly have impacted upon the innocent minds of the next generation against Kula Devata worship. 

Similarly sensitive topics like, “Why not we have Tamil archana in temples?”, “Why should we have only Brahmins as archagas in Agamic temples?” have been debated with the motive of ridiculing Vedic and Agamic principles and to project only so-called Brahminism as Hinduism. These topics were utilized to the hilt to create a rift between Purohits and Pujaris and alienate worshippers of village deities. Another topic “Which is better, arranged marriage or love marriage?” saw Hindu customs ridiculed. 

Normally, the participants, who are supposed to talk in favour of the production company’s motive, are handpicked by the company; even if the other team’s participants perform better, their arguments get edited. This writer has had the personal experience of participating in one such programme, anchored by the same Gopinath. 

Unfortunately, most participants are Hindus who simply come to show their faces on television without realizing that they are also playing a part in the denigration of their religion and culture. For such persons, seeing themselves on the TV screen is a big achievement, to boast about in the neighbourhood. This is a reason for the obsession with sending children to so-called ‘Reality Shows’, which smack of indecency and even vulgarity. 

Vijay TV’s audacious show

The last debate telecast by Vijay TV must be viewed in this backdrop and the topic debated on Sunday, 11 October 2009, between 9 pm and 10 pm (primetime Sunday) was, “Should the Mangalsutra be necessarily worn by women?”

In course of the debate, the sacred Hindu custom was ridiculed in demeaning terms and the Mangalsutra termed as just an ‘ordinary thing’ which need not be worn. Some of the outrageous comments made by the anchor and some participants include:

- Wearing the Mangalsutra is only a superstition; it doesn’t have any sanctity attached to it; the Mangalsutra is just an ordinary thing. 

- Most women do not wear it nowadays. 

- Women who go out for jobs do not want to show themselves as ‘married’ and hence they conceal their Mangalsutra inside their blouses. 

- A lot of women do not wear it while sleeping at night. 

- Many women do not wear it while going out and prefer to leave it at home. 

- It is like a dog’s license hanging round the neck. The Mangalsutra is only a marriage license and doesn’t have any sanctity (comment by a Christian lady) 

The arrogant Gopinath asked a participant who supported wearing Mangalsutras if she would remove hers if a doctor asked her to do so before a surgery. The lady replied that she would obey the doctor and wear it again after the surgery. The anchor teased her, “Will you do whatever the doctor says?” which made her squirm in embarrassment.   

In a shocking incident, one lady simply removed her Mangalsutra and handed it over to the anchor when he asked for it. Chief guest Nirmala Periyasamy, a former news reader in SUN TV, who belongs to the school of Dravidian thought, gave the ‘Best Participant’ prize to this lady. When the prize was handed over, the anchor forced the other participants to applaud her for her ‘courage’ and ‘rational’ thinking. 

It was obvious that this lady and others who spoke against the sanctity of the Mangalsutra were handpicked by the production company and that the arguments of the opposite team have been edited sharply. The anchor openly bullied participants who spoke in support of wearing the Mangalsutra and the sanctity attached to it. One can imagine the adverse impact this programme could have made on the minds of young girls and innocents in semi-urban and rural areas. 





(To be continued…)
The writer is a freelancer 

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