Pitrasatta Se Aazadi: Protesters take over V-Tree puja, manage to dampen celebrations
A tussle between some students of Hindu College wishing to continue the Virgin Tree puja and those opposing it broke out at the college on Valentine’s DayUpdated: Feb 15, 2019 13:56 IST
The famous Damdami Mai Puja at Hindu College — a tradition where students worship the Virgin Tree hoping to find love, and lose their virginity — has been going on for decades. But, unlike previous years, this time puja saw a whole new revolution come up. Just as students of the college, geared up to start the puja, students part of the women’s collective Pinjra Tod and Students’ Federation of India (SFI) as well as from other colleges stormed the gates of the college demanding the tradition be banned!.
HINDU BOYS HOSTEL UNION KHABARDAAR, MAHILAAYEIN HAI TAYYAR
Cries of ‘Hum ko chahiye Aazadi, Chheen ke lenge Aazadi, Arrey Khap se Aazadi, Pitrisatta se Aazadi’, resounded in the college as the protesting students approached the iconic venue — Virgin Tree near the Academic Block of the college. “Hindu boys hostel union khabardaar, mahilaayein hai tayyar. Virgin ki pooja nahi chalegi, hum yeh pooja nahi shengey,” shouted the group as they approached the tree. And the Union boys asked the protesters, “Kis cheez ke lliye hain mahillayein tayyar?” For they didn’t get the hang of why the protest was still happening despite the fact that they organising committee modified the tradition incorporating the suggested changes — a change of lyrics of the aarti.
THE CHANGE WAS HERE!
However, the college students who had gathered to carry out the ritual with modifications — instead of just a Damdami Mai (a female celebrity whose posters are worshipped on the day), they had included a poster of Love Guru (a male counterpart, for those hoping to find love amongst the male species), and a couple (to celebrate the spirit of successful relationships). So, posters of Sara Ali Khan, Prabhas and that of Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli striking a romantic pose adorned the venue. And the pandit, a first year student, was ready to mouth the changed lyrics of the aarti, but couldn’t, because of all the mayhem.
OUR MOM IS VERY PROGRESSIVE
he students who had gathered to be part of this college ritual, quickly formed a human chain around the tree to protect the proceedings from the protesters. Both sides, equally aggressive about their cause were not looking to back down, not today. The tree which was decorated with condoms, balloons and decorative strings was now the centre of a battle between the two sides. As the protesters shouted ‘Shame, Shame, Shame’, one of them managed to burst the condoms and balloons and cheers filled the campus. “This is a patriarchal practice that objectifys women, and we won’t let such a practice continue. Virginity khoni hai to himmat dikhao aur kisi ko approach karo, ped ki pooja karke kuchh nahi hoga. Aaj yeh pratha band hoke rahegi,” said Shrishti Kothari, a student who was part of the protesting group. “Ek banai hui devi ki pooja karte hai aur ‘maa’ bulaane ke baad apni virginity ke liye madad maangte hai. Apni maa se koi aisi cheez kehta hai kya?” she added.
An onlooker mumbled, “Is this even an argument! Kyun maa se discuss nahi kar saktey kya, our mom is very progressive, unlike yours.”
OLE, OLE, BUT NO STOPPING THE POOJA!
And, the students of the union were not going to take this lying down. They went around the building and arrived with dhols, dancing to their tunes and with them came the pandit for this year’s pooja — a first year student dressed in white. “Hindu humaare aap ka, nahin ksii ke baap ka” shouted the puja group. And then it rained and hailstormed, but come rain or shine they were in no mood to not continue it. They decided to move the venue to the boys’ hostel.
However, before this could happen, a fight broke out as student from both groups started climbing the tree— the union students trying to protect it , and the protesters trying to take down the posters. Virat and Anushka’s poster adorning the tree.
TEACHERS AND POLICE SHOWED UP
Teachers and police officials had to intervene and send they warring parties in different directions. But the verbal fight continued. Sloganeering on both the sides was the highlight.
THAPPAD KA HAI DUM?
So, there was dhakka mukki, and khicha-tani. And soon, we spotted s few girls from the protesting group throwing slaps around, which landed on whoever was trying to push them out. “Rok ke dikha de yeh log agar dum hai. Halka sa pakad lo ya dhakka de do to ‘Me Too, Me Too’ chilaane lag jaati hai yeh ladkiya. Khud agar vishwas nahi hai puja main to at least jinko hai unhe to manane do. Na yeh khud is college ke hai, na yeh college waalon ko khuch karne de rahe hai. Pooja to aaj ho ke rahegi, chahe jaise bhi ho,” said Vikram Shokeen, a student who had come to support the puja.
The protesting group celebrated with shreds of the poster as the union shifted the celebrations to the hostel area which had life size posters of actors Sara Ali Khan and Prabhas, adorning the entry. Dhols played again, and boys danced; some even threw gulaal in the air.
A MORAL VICTORY OR A VICTORY OF THE TRADITION?
Cut to the end. Both the sides claimed victory. Although, no one might have completely won the fight, from the looks of it. The Virgin Tree for the first time in years did not see a proper puja. The protesting group counted this as a victory, a step towards a less patriarchal era. “We did it. We finally managed to stop a tradition that is powered by the objectification of women. These people think that ‘allowing’ women to add a Love Guru to this celebration would be ok, but it is not. That changed nothing, today we changed it,” said Nitibha Verma, a student who had joined the protesting group. “I believe in this fight, and that is why I am here. One cannot just be a bystander and watch while toxic masculinity takes over. The fight will continue, and today proved that good does prevail. I am so proud of all the organisations that got this to happen. I salute their courage and their cause,” she added.
A student on the puja sides’ group said, “Ye protect with a cause tha... Hamne changes kar liye puja mei, suggestions bhi maang liye, objectification kya hai? We are just hoping to find a partner. Aur anyway, puja toh hui na. Bahar ke college wale are jealous of us, jabardasti hamari cost pe attention chahiye. It’s like the Raj army coming to India and saying you are not cultured, because your culture is not the same as ours. Spare me this nonsense.”
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