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The Parasitic Case of Mata and Baba

August 2013

And our daily evening-tea-party was charged with thrill, anger, excitement, anguish and enthusiasm. Asaram Bapu was accused of sexual assault by a 16-year old girl at his ashram in Jodhpur on the pretext of exorcising her from evil spirits. More reports of fraud, black magic and even of murder. Out Khatti  cum club room was on full flow as our dear friend Nitish Babu was a staunch follower of Asaram-so-called-Bapu. Nitish Babu was vehemently defending Asaram whereas all of us were busy taunting him with his devotion and loyalty towards Asaram.  I, along with Shakti babu, Ajit babu, Rajesh Babu did not leave any chance to pull his leg. This was quite fun and it went on around one month and the news channels were feeding us with latest updates about Asaram. Gradually, fresh sensational news replaced Asaram. TV channels forgot Asaram and so did we.

July 2015

After 2 years we were reminded of Asaram again. It was not because Asaram’s case was reopened but a very strange thing happened that day. Shakti Babu was back from his Mumbai trip and we were in our tea khatti to celebrate his return from this one month long trip. As usual, Shakti babu was overwhelmed with his wonderful tales about the dream city. And this time he seemed to be more excited about someone called Radhe Maa, a so-called Goddess in Mumbai. Shakti babu had not only got the chance to meet her but also to hold her up in his hands (and for which we heard Shakti Babu’s wife was not in talking terms with him for a month). Anyways we were busy with the juicy gossips about Radhe Maa when suddenly the picture of Radhe Maa flashed on TV. The gorgeous Radhe Maa, dressed in red dress and dark lipstick was arrested on the case of fraud, obscenity and vulgarity. Now it was the turn of Shakti Babu to be the laughing stock.

8 August 2015

Asaram and Radhe Maa were long forgotten. We had got the son of our own soil, Sarathi Baba. All Odia TV channels were busy running the shocking news about this self proclaimed guru. This 48 years old baba was found in a Hyderabad hotel with a woman, whom he had mentioned as his wife, was actually a 24-year-old MBBS student at Shrirama Chandra Bhanj Medical College, Cuttack. Sarathi was also charged with vulgarity, sexual assault and molestation. Thousands disciples of Sarathi protested against his arrest but somehow it was an eye opener for most Odias. For the next few days our khatti was full of the sexual adventures of Sarathi in his Kendrapada ashram including his shocking, shameful expedition on Janmastami as Aanthua Gopala. Odisha was on the national television, and for all wrong reasons. I was the most ruthless one amongst all the haters of these self-styled babas. I was unable to fathom the reason why people get trap in the cobweb of these gurus and babas even after knowing the truth about them.

9 August 2015

It was 7 PM. I was on my way from office to Khatti. My phone rang. It was my wife. I could sense the urgency in her voice. My son had met with an accident. I headed for my home fanatically.

30 August 2015

For the last 20 days there were countless tours to hospitals and pathological labs. My son’s limbs were severely injured and he had a skull fracture. He was unconscious for almost 3 days. The recovery was quite slow and doctors were a bit skeptical about his condition. Then we changed his hospital, his doctor and his medication hoping a miracle but the improvement was too sluggish. Nevertheless, my wife’s prayers worked (as she claimed) and my son stopped losing his sense quite often unlike the initial days of his accident. Obviously we saw it as a saving grace but I knew we were not out of danger. Doctor had said his head injury might affect his brain and memory and we were worried.

Finally my son was discharged from the hospital and we were on our way to home. While returning from hospital, I heard my wife saying, “Neeta was saying Sura baba of Achyuta Ashram recovers anyone who comes to his shelter. I think we should take our Samar to his ashram. I am sure our Samar will be alright. What do you say?”

I turned back to look at my wife. Being a “self-proclaimed” logical and balanced person, it was difficult for me to manage my illogical wife. But I could see now she was not an irrational woman but only a loving mother. And me? A helpless father, I guess!!!! I l looked the pale face of Samar sleeping on his mother’s lap in the car’s back seat. He hadn’t smiled for more than a days. I looked at my wife. Her eyes were filled with pleading tears. And  finally I could hear myself saying, “as you wish.”

I looked at the bickering darkness I was heading on. All of a sudden, I realized why people get trapped. I could understand why logical people turn illogical. I could understand what exactly these Gurus are. I could realize these Babas and Matas are the parasites. They are fed on our fears, panic, and insecurities. They won’t exist if our fears won’t. And they won’t extinct till our fears do.

Toast to Rangabati for Binding Us Together

And Rangabati had returned, with a bang for sure. Her grand homecoming was preceded by overwhelming updates on Twitter and Facebook. It was indeed the most awaiting musical extravaganza of the year for Odias. Then she came, she was heard and suddenly she tore apart the whole world (read Odisha) into two groups. As FB and Twitter lent their hands, she made her way to the top trends with hashtaq #Rangabati. The first group were busy celebrating the unexpected appearance of the song of their soil on national television whereas the second group were busy analyzing the mistakes (read mispronunciations of Sambalpuri words) committed by Sona “Kataki”Mohapatra. The first group had goosebumps while listening to the breathtaking voice of Rituraj singing to the tune of “Bande Utkala Janani.” They bashed Jitendra Haripal and team for their 1 cr lawsuit against Ram Sampath and team. On the contrary, the second group despised the remix and detested the irrelevant incorporation of Tamil rap in the new Rangabati. Both the groups came up with strong, valid and powerful arguments and the online fighting seemed to become more intriguing with each passing day. We, Odia people loved Rangabati, hated Rangabati, but definitely we couldn’t ignore her.

Among this rage and frenzy around Rangabati, I was quite amused (actually amazed) and something very interesting had caught my attention. Belonging to a generation where speaking, listening and watching Odia is a middle class mentality (read LS), I was wondering when was the last time we young Odia people had taken a bullet for something that was Odia, a song, a movie, the language, its culture or may be for its people!!! People were fighting, putting up their views, taking their stands, raising their voices and for what?? For Rangabati!!! Did I see Rangabati as a symbol here?? A sign, a reference or may be a representation?? Of Odisha itself!! May be yes, may be no. It might sound weird but I could sense that among those word-wars about Rangabati, these people were getting back to their roots and their origins. Those who had never heard Rangabati went back and googled about it. The Youtube hits on old Rangabti video in two days superseded its lifetime views. For the first time we, Odias, came to know that Rangabati was the first Odia song to be mentioned in BBC and Voice of America. It was featured in the Bollywood movie Kaun Kitne Pani Mein (2014) by Odia director Nila Madhaba Panda and also the Korean dancers danced to its tune during the 7th World Water Forum at Daegu in South Korea. It was like going back in the past and realizing when do you really belong. It was like meeting your inner-self, acknowledging your rich heritage for the first time. It was like seeing yourself in the mirror and all of a sudden finding a new identity. It was like recognizing your roots and realizing how thriving it was/is. The two groups, the Pro-Rangabti and the Anti-Rangabati seemed like two different categories of people but in reality they were fighting for the same cause, for the same purpose, for their state Odisha and its legacy. The first one was fighting for Odisha’s authenticity, the other one was fighting for its originality. The first one was fighting for its new-found glory and the second one was trying to keep hold of its fading grandeur. The first group was celebrating its present, and the second group was basking on its past. Whatever their stands were, whatever their values were, inadvertently they were fighting for one motive, to retain the pride of being an Odia. And, interestingly, Rangabati succeeded in enabling them in doing so. It’s quite irrelevant if personally I liked the new Rangabati or not, but I would always be appreciative of Rangabati for binding the Odias together for a greater cause.