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The Controversy Over Pongal And Why I Would Not Mind Learning Hindi

Posted by Megha Sreeram in Society
January 11, 2017
It is time for the biggest festival of Tamil Nadu. Pongal.

What began centuries ago as a festival that celebrates the harvest season and the gratitude of farmers towards the main factors that help in the success of agriculture, has become a political issue now. It is disheartening to see people taking offence to much, much misguided information and taking to social media to spread negativity.

I just bore witness to one of the stupidest campaigns on social media. The campaign against Pongal being a restricted holiday. Pongal/Sankranti was always a restricted holiday since I can remember. I studied in a Kendriya Vidyalaya (government school) and we followed the Gazetted Holiday list to the T. Hence, I know the nuances behind the declaration of holidays as far as the Central Government institutions are concerned.

Something about nothing

It was stunning to see people rake up this issue as something new and go bonkers over it. Well, it doesn’t make much sense. Pongal/Sankranti is being celebrated in a few states in India and it is fair to give such states the benefit of a holiday on that day. Sigh! If only people could think with their brains and not with their hearts.

Another issue that is being slowly raked up now (which was already burning over the past few days on Quora) is how Hindi is not our national language and how one must avoid learning Hindi lest North Indians come and invade the Southern part of the peninsula.

I have no idea as to what is wrong in learning a new language? In a country as vast as India, that boasts of hundreds of languages and dialects, one would definitely need a common language to communicate and understand each other’s words. That language that weaves people from different linguistic backgrounds into the same carpet could be anything – Tamil, Telugu, Hindi or Odiya. It could be anything, really. How does that matter? Are we going to formulate our theories based on quantitative aspects than on qualitative aspects again?

People who say that this is a way to “preserve” and “conserve” their culture need to spend time on something more crucial. Is it okay if people adopt a certain language for the sake of it or is it important that they carry the pride when they adopt that particular language? The feeling of “apnapan” (belonging) has to come from within and sadly, like many other things that concern the heart, it cannot be inculcated from outside.

The day people realise this and stop thinking from the heart, we could hope for a better India. Else, this is going to be the routine when each and every Indian festival rolls around.