I happened to be in Shirdi the same day a high-voltage cricket match was being played between India and Pakistan in South Africa.
The city’s mood was different — patriotism had overtaken its spiritual sentiments. Locals and devotees huddled together around tea stalls and other shops listening to the commentary or watching the direct telecast of the match. Loud cheers and bursting of crackers were heard every time the Indian team inched closer to the Twenty20 World Cup.
The scene was no different at the hotel: guests were glued to their television sets. Shouts of ‘Chak De India’ replaced ‘Jai Sai Ram’ for a few hours. But luckily for some, the cricket final was over before the 10 p.m. aarti.
As I came out of the hotel, I saw a Ganapati visarjan procession pass the temple. Youngsters were in frenzy, dancing to the tunes of latest Bollywood numbers. I wondered if they were inebriated. Before I could reach any conclusion, I heard someone shout “Chak De India”. I got the answer to my question.
Some words just click with the masses. ‘Chak De India’ resonates with Vande Mataram as games are fought like battles. All regional, caste and communal barriers are broken. The passion with which the country followed the T20 World Cup was last seen during the Kargil war. The game bound Indians into one cohesive force.
On the other hand, music is today drawing boundaries within India. Popular music shows — Indian Idol, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and Star Voice of India — have virtually divided the country along regional lines. The voting pattern reveals a distinct regional flavour.
If it is a talent-hunt show and not a money-minting business, then it’s time to remind the organisers of these contests and the public that music is supposed to break geographical boundaries, not create new ones.
Or else we have the option to replace the word ‘music’ with ‘cricket’. The choice is yours.