(B. Someswar Rao)
The festival of Naraka Chaturdashi came a day before Deepawali or Diwali marking the day demon king Naraka was killed by Durga or Kaali, showing the place of women (Shakti) in Hindu culture.
Diwali is known world over as a festival when lighta dispels darkness. World leaders including Australian PM Scott Morrison and the US President-elect Joe Biden gave beautiful messages. The message of the President-to-be of the US, the world’s most powerful state, even had him say Sal Mubarak as the Hindi-belt New Year begins on Diwali. Donald Trump, famous for long (often silly) posts tweeted simply ‘Happy Diwali’, Diwali is celebrated even in the White House. Trump lighted a lamp to mark it, though it may be for the last time, as anti-India Biden may stop it to have Eid celebrations instead, to please the Muslim community he loves.
Durga killing Naraka is symbolic of the victory of good over evil. All Hindus believe this, but just as some Muslims are known to have worshipped Ram and Mahalakshmi, there are some Hindus who think Tipu Sultan, who killed millions of Hindus in Coorg and rest of Karnataka, was a great king.
‘Tipu Jayanti’ celebrations started by the Congress party, however, was not due to this belief. It is an obvious bid to win the Muslim votes as most Muslims in Karnataka owe their conversion to Islam to the murderous force of Tipu, besides the castes born from distortion of Hinduism. Congress apologists show his grant of land to a Srirangapatna temple as proof of his secularism, but fail to see that this was because Tipu was a blind believer in astrology and that temple’s priest was his main fortune teller. It is a blatant example of vote-bank politics and polarization by the Congress.
It is not just vote-bank politics that matter. Extolling Tipu Sultan is a part of textbooks in Karnataka. Attempts to change this is dubbed ‘saffronization.’ Ramanujacharya who propounded the Visishtadwaita philosophy of Tamil Nadu’s Iyengar Brahmin sect, spent more time in Karnataka’s Melkote than in Tamil Nadu. There has been no Deepawali Celebration in Melukote (as it is called now) since the last 230 years!
It is because in 1790 on Narak Chaturdashi day, Tipu Sultan massacred over 800 Hindu Iyengers at Melukote. Since then the town has stopped celebrating Deepawali.
Of course there is no mention of this in our history lessons or books. To mention it means toeing the BJP line. The ‘tolerant’ are intolerant of this.