Dear Sonu Nigam,
This is a letter to not just a singer I admire, but also to someone who shaped up major chunk of my childhood and teenage days.
I deftly remember my first ever black transistor radio. In our childhood, innumerable private music channels were a distant dream. Very few people around us owned mobile phones; and they almost looked like TV remote controls. In the afternoon, I’d come back from school, sit in my balcony and turn on the radio set. I was in 2nd or 3rd standard when ‘Sangharsh’ released. ‘Mujhe Raat Din’, that probably became the most sought-after romantic numbers of that year, first introduced me to you.
Next, I saw you on TV as you began hosting ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’, the first reality show I watched after I grew enough to understand competitions. I believe it was the same with many. A soulful singer, an unprejudiced, honest defender of true talent, you gave your fans numerous reasons to love you.
And then, yesterday morning, I woke up to your Twitter rants. An early morning Azaan woke you up, and you vented out your vexation on Twitter.
“God bless everyone. I’m not a Muslim and I have to be woken up by the Azaan in the morning. When will this forced religiousness end in India? And by the way Mohammed did not have electricity when he made Islam.. Why do I have to have this cacophony after Edison? I don’t believe in any temple or gurudwara using electricity To wake up people who don’t follow the religion . Why then..? Honest? True? Gundagardi hai bus…,” you wrote. I could almost see you frowning. And I’ll be honest. It hurts.
Since the day I was born till the time I grew up, Calcutta has taught me the best of cosmopolitan, reformist and progressive outlook. Festivity, to me, still means those five days of Durga Puja; those five days that fuse people of all religions and communities together, without a stipulation. I would be more shocked than hurt if a Muslim neighbour ever came and demanded to know why they were being bothered by all the noise and crowd. Christmas got me no less excited than my Christian friends. On 25th December, the entire city would light up, looking like a mysterious, ageless, arresting lady. We silently admired as the believing heads bowed down in humblest prayers, and the church bell rang beautifully. It, however, caused a lot of traffic jam. Wonder what would happen if we dismissed the celebration! And let alone the crackers of Diwali. And have you heard of ‘Akhand Ramayan’? Prevalent in North India, once it begins, it goes on for twenty four good hours, on mic.
Later when I moved to Mumbai, I realised it is the same everywhere. Despite so much of unrest and conflicts taking over the world, we continue to live because we extend hands of harmony towards each other.
The chant during Azaan is not just the holy beginning to a practising Muslim’s day, but is also a call of prayer, at different times of the day. Also pronounced as ‘Adhan’, it can be traced back from the word ‘Adhina’, that means ‘to hear’. Too sorry it broke your sleep though!
You correctly pointed out that Hindu temples or Gurudwaras do not have such practices. You however forgot, neither Hindus nor Sikhs have the practice of combined prayers, except of special occasions. And not sure if you’re aware of it, but the span before sunrise is as well an auspicious moment for Hindus, known as ‘Brahma Muhurta’. Practising Hindus believe, it is the best time to meditate, pray and worship.
Sorry if I came across as a religious preacher. I am a strictly non-religious individual who only finds the beauty of social harmony in every religious celebration and event. And thus, when you refer to Azaan as ‘Gundagardi’, my lips tremble for a moment.
Into 2017, and we are still struggling to achieve a little peace. The world is in strange contradiction with all the messages of love that we are always preaching. Whether or not you believe it, you public figures shape important mass opinion.
I am quite sure you’ve unintentionally hurt many of your Muslim fans today. Music is a weapon that binds us together beyond all walls. Why spit hatred when you can sing love instead?