Indians by nature are intensely passionate. Though, these passions are unearthed sporadically. Nothing comes at par with the game of Cricket when its about unleashing the innate sentiments of us Indians.
Religion in its true sense of the term is the pathway to happiness. There are many pathways with different doctrines, theologies, cults as well as metaphysical creations. However, the destination is the same which is the attainment of happiness.
Today, it will not be an exaggeration to say that religions are politicised and politics is communalised by people of all colours and hues (as well as religions). The religion as it was meant to be understood and practised is far from its ideal form. Today it’s more of a chimera or an abstraction.
Different pathways to achievement of the ultimate happiness are at odds with each other. Rather than complementing each other, efforts abound to curb others and enforce the supremacy of one faith. Ancient crusades, holy wars, competing for proselytisation and political mobilisations on the basis of religion are basically at odds with the ends these religions claim to achieve.
Cricket in India is not just a game, it is an emotion, a sentiment and a way of life. It is an integrating force. Nothing unites Indians more than the game of cricket. Cricket is in fact the most potent tool of nationalism today. It is the game of cricket only where our Indian identity transcends our all other parochial identities of religion, race, caste, tribe, gender, colour, group, region etc.
Nothing lifts the mood of Indians than a big tournament victory. The momentous six by Dhoni which brought home the 2011 cricket World Cup, or the catch by Sreesanth which won us the premier t20 World Cup, Rohit Sharma’s double centuries or the most recent test victory down under, everything is imprinted eloquently in the minds of every Indian. These moments albeit transitorily lift all the doom and gloom an average Indian goes through day in and day out.
Cricket is in fact a semi religion. Our successful cricketers are treated no less than Demi-gods. In fact, the more successful ones like Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid etc have an influence at par with those of Gods. “If cricket is a religion, Sachin is the God” the shibboleth is lost to no one.
India claims to be a secular country, but secularism is perverted to such an extent that no religion feels secure at any point of time. Rather religions are weaponised to fight narrow political wars by leaders of all affiliations even the ones who claim to be atheists.
To restore the sanctity of secularism in India it is perhaps time we all collectively develop an overlapping consensus on a religion which truly unites, whose means to achieve the ends of happiness are congruent. In my mind, there is no better contender to fill this void than cricket. I might be wrong.
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