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Faith 101: Pick a canard, any canard!

"Religion is the opium of the masses," said Karl Marx, after which Mamata Banerjee dropkicked him and set his beard on fire. Ashish Shakya writes.

india Updated: Apr 22, 2012 01:12 IST
Ashish Shakya

"Religion is the opium of the masses," said Karl Marx, after which Mamata Banerjee dropkicked him and set his beard on fire. Sadly, unlike many other Marxist views, this one still holds true today. Religion is still a popular psychotropic drug that lulls many of its users into a state of blinkered dependency, and like other drugs, is a catalyst for some mind-bendingly trippy music, like bhajans set to the tune of ‘Munni Badnaam Hui’.

Now I’m not hating on religion just because I can. I don’t do that because joking about religion is too easy — it’s the comic equivalent of taking candy from a coma patient.

But ever so often, I come across something that inspires a physical sense of revulsion, coupled with the need to punch people in the brain. I’m referring, of course, to the Abhishek Manu Singhvi sex tape.

OK, no. As implausible as it seems, some women do want to sleep with Singhvi. I’m referring to
reports of an alleged “miracle" that recently took place in an Irla church, when people were amazed to discover water dripping from the feet of a Jesus statue.

I know what you’re thinking — water being generated magically? Woohoo! The southwest monsoon can go to Congo for all I care! Clearly, the law of conservation of matter had been proven wrong, and that too, in Irla — an area otherwise famous for being the armpit of Vile Parle.

But that’s not the infuriating bit. The drama began when Sanal Edamaraku, a well-known Indian sceptic and president of the Indian Rationalists Association, inspected the site, and revealed the source of the water to be a leaky drain.

As expected, the devout realised their mistake and thanked Sanal for their opening their eyes to rationalism. And then LK Advani wolfed down a juicy beef burger before defecting to Pakistan.

No, what happened was that last week, an FIR was registered against Edmaruku under Section 295, i.e. “defiling a place of worship with

intent to insult religion". This is how we treat non-believers — by flinging authority at their faces, as if they’d done the unthinkable, like suggest that the earth revolved around the sun. Oh, wait.

It’s good to see our cops being tasked with real crimes like these. Next up: a manhunt for Voldemort’s missing nose. But mostly, I’m just baffled by how, in 2012, someone’s

first thought after witnessing the Irla event was, ‘This must be a miracle’. My washbasin at home is leaking too. Do you think I should get it exorcised?

Sanal’s visit to Mumbai was sponsored by a Hindi TV channel, which may seem a bit fishy since such exposes are known to be eyeball-grabbers, second only to headlines like ‘Dekhiye saanp, kutte aur kabootar ka threesome!’

But I’d much rather see sceptics on such channels, instead of the usual line-up of godmen selling life-saving mythological lockets that are probably fuelled by the souls of the Chinese kids who made them.

Of course, this isn’t Mumbai’s first brush with so-called miracles. My favourite one was about six years ago, when the seawater at Mahim — which is basically piss with fish in it — turned sweet, causing thousands to throng the area for a sip. Then again, it was probably an upgrade from the usual BMC supply.

I don’t know how the case against Sanal will proceed. I just hope that common sense prevails when it comes to matters like these. That would be a real miracle. Now if you’ll excuse me, my head is hurting. Surely this is a sign from Hogwarts.

Ashish Shakya is a writer and a stand-up comic. He co-writes the TV satire, The Week That Wasn’t. Sometimes he’s even sober while doing so.