Namakkal, Tamilnadu. Most of the Indians, especially those living in rural India, were shocked to see urban men and women applying fairness creams and trying different brands of innerwears for over five hours in an annual ritual practiced here for ages now – an exercise that is supposed to fill them with confidence. What was even more shocking was presence of even 10-year-old boys and girls, who burst bubble gums to get confidence.
Men and women from cities as far as New Delhi, Chandigarh and Calcutta had traveled down here to take part in the ritual, for which the organizers had promised a lucky draw that could help one lucky person go on an all-paid trip (food and local travel excluded) to Malaysia. Some of the foreigners visiting the state also participated in the ritual.
Three judges were appointed for the ritual, who rated the faithful participants on a confidence index. They whipped the participants with peppy words to keep their enthusiasm level up.
Many women were seen scratching their faces after the event, allegedly due to some chemical reaction after applying a cocktail the fairness creams, but organizers maintain that women did so to express their unhappiness at not having got enough marks for their confidence by the judges. Children too were seen crying profusely while men abused and kicked each other, all normal part of the ritual, organizers maintain.
“We have been practicing the ritual for many years now. This may look strange to you but we find nothing abnormal or shocking. This is a matter of science as well as faith. A fair skin can help you get a good job and you can make your parents proud,” Neha, one of the participants said.
“I believe that when I wear a sexy brief, chicks just can’t take their eyes off me. I’ve experienced it, trust me. Once I had knowingly left my trousers unzipped so that chicks can see the brand I was wearing, and man, did they not ogle at me!” Kaushik, another participant shared his experience.
Some rationalist groups have found the whole ritual very disgusting and dangerous. They have called for a ban on such events and putting the organizers and judges behind bar, but participants have threatened mass agitation if the government or any other organization tried to meddle with their beliefs, which they insist are based upon scientific facts and basic tenets of democracy.
(with inputs from our special corresponded Saanchi)