Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Goa’s Roadside Romeos

When you say Roadside Romeo, the recent Saif Ali Khan starrer easily comes to mind. However in Goa, we have a different breed of Roadside Romeos and they have been here for centuries and are still a strong force till date, even in this modern era.

By Roadside Romeos, I do not mean men who try to win love of a woman on the street with various wooing techniques. Rather men and women, who try to win the love of almighty God by putting up a religious statue, symbol or deity on the street side in Goa and adore it so unabashedly, that it eats into the width of the roads, thrusting the general pubroadside temple in Goalic into acute inconvenience and holds up traffic in serpentine queues. However this does not affect the worshippers one bit. Their allegiance with the place of the structure of worship is so adamant that they find that its shifting to another nearby area is sacrilege and would mean a loss of sanctity of their God, in a way suggesting that their God was born right there.

Religion was meant to be a bonding factor between various communities. It was meant to live a disciplined life in this world. However if one notices the inconvenience that such roadside structures cause to pedestrians and vehicular traffic in Goa, one wonders where such moral ethics have nosedived to. One also wonders whether we are in a lawless land of conveniences of a select few. God was to be worshipped at home or at a defined religious place like churches, temples, mosques and gurudwaras. Certainly not along pavements, roads and waysides.

People in Goa seem to have got so overwhelmed in their zeal for propagating their freedom of religion that you find Godly structures on pavements, roads, bridges, on top of nullahs, near traffic islands etc. Most of these structures are a big deterrent to the smooth flow of traffic but are nevertheless untouched by the government. It seems that it is a willful desire of politicians to support the cause of these roadside structures to enable them to conveniently mix a nice proven cocktail of religion with vote bank politics.

Politicians who are full of vested interests, seem to be using this pavement faith for their own benefit. Instead of educating the misled people who believe in the structure beside the road, they would rather visit the structure, garland it and urge its continuation much to their own delight of securing their vote bank.

God was and is always a spirit to be felt with personal prayer and worship from the heart. He has no form and cannot be seen. However people find solace in making symbols and forms of him and finally fall in love with those symbols more than the God whom they think their symbols represent. Worse, they fall in love with the place where these symbols are located and vehemently oppose their re-location.
Roadside chapel in Goa
This problem in Goa extends to all communities and particularly the Catholic and Hindu community who put up structures anywhere on the streets, pavements, roadsides etc at will. Later these structures cause severe problems for the general public and the propagators of these structures are blind to the woes of the public. However their very structure is illegal and no one dares to question its illegal existence.

The government of the day has to therefore show a sense of purpose and character and apply the law with due diligence without any discrimination and get rid of all roadside structures which come in the way of road development and which hamper smooth flow of traffic or which impair the full use of a government related public facility. Further such structures should not be allowed to sprout without due diligence of procedure laid down by the planning authorities.

Else this is a complete sense of lawlessness endorsed by a state, which is deplorable.

Xittuk Goencar

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