LIBERATE THE MARINA NOW!
It is very irresponsible on the part of any political party in India/Tamil Nadu to turn the beach into tasteless and macabre mausoleum for our dead and long gone chief ministers. As a resident of Chennai where my family is rooted for generations, I have every right to object to this shameful and selfish act of our government. A bad precedent was set and it is being nurtured by the day. It is time we the public, put a complete full stop to this dangerous, maniacal trend.
Moreover mausoleums are for muslims who celebrate their dead as we see from remnants of Moghul India, brought into practice by the Afghans who seized Delhi throne by terror just like their contemporaries today who are intimidating the world.
Hindus over 95% cremate their dead. Now even the funeral wood pyre is prohibited for environmental reasons and only electric crematoriums are in use. The electric ones burn the dead to ashes in matter of minutes and don’t even leave bones that remain in manual wood pyres. The second day the ashes are collected (along with bones if any) by families to be immersed in the sea. Some may safe keep the ashes for immersion in river Ganga or the Indian ocean or to be strewn in the Himalayas. That is it. No trace of you. Only records can prove your existence. Leave without a trace not burdening Mother Earth even for an extra second. This is unwritten Hindu philosophy.
Only ‘Mahans’ and a very negligible percentage of Hindus bury their dead. Mahans mostly opt for ‘Jeev samadhi’ – preferring to be buried alive as in the case of Hindu saints and sages. Modern day Gurus suffering from selective amnesia however conveniently pass this off! How interesting it would be to watch today’s glam gurus rolling in billions embrace Jeev Samadhi (in future)! In fact I challenge Baba Ramdev, Sadhguru, Sri Sri, the leading spiritual gurus of India to attainment of this unparalleled and supreme height of spiritual elevation !!!
No Hindu king has a memorable Samadhi or burial place like the Moghuls do or the ancient Egyptians have until today in the form of Pyramids. Building a memorial may not be exactly anti-Hindu as we do not have a code of conduct or laws to adhere to – it suffices that this is just not the case. Mahatma Gandhi and independent India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru are rare exceptions to have memorials even if they were cremated. Most of their ashes were immersed in and around India and a small token may be resting in their Samadhis, nothing more.
The Dravidian leaders might have called themselves atheists in spite of their covert Hindu beliefs and with their families clinging to faith contradicting their ideologies, yet they were also against rituals and memorials for the dead. In that case, why must they want to remain immortal. Why this clamour to go into history. Is this useless vanity Dravidian like Ravana’s? None in my generation cares for Anna Durai the state’s first Dravidian party CM. Neither did we know of Kamaraj or Rajaji except from our text books. Even if the past leaders may get familiar with our school children through history classes, it is not possible for the future generations to connect with them on any plane. Our next generation cannot even identify with the thespians of Tamil film industry MGR (MGR also our ex chief minister) and Shivaji Ganesan even if the timeless heroes’ images are etched in celluloid for posterity. Public memory is shortest and the attention span is sinking to pathetic new lows. Ten to twenty years from now on, who can identify with our ex chief ministers Karunanidhi or Jayalalitha. If we have to have memorials, we have to have from ancient Tamil Kings from millennia before. History and literature is all we have to remind us of them and narrate to us their glorious past. We never needed the graves. The graves are for the insecure who desperately want to go into history like the Moghuls. This is not our Sanathana Dharma. Mahans and Sants especially the Jains are selfless truly spiritual wonders of India who are a rare exception. Their breed is dwindling and almost non existent today.
Hopefully Tamil Nadu elects a responsible government in near future that will see the idiocy and sycophancy behind the erections of these mausoleums and raze them to dust one fine morning.
Let the Marina be free of scheming politicians and their dirty politics. Let the breathtakingly beautiful Marina of yesteryears be returned to the public – to walk on and play and enjoy evening life that comes free of cost to our citizens. Chennai is the world’s uninterrupted second longest beach on records. These graves are not only an eye sore but are totally an illegal encroachment (even if Chennai corporation may ratify things later), harmful to the natural environment of the city.
It is my dream to see the beach restored to its former pristine beauty and returned to the public – tax paying, honest citizens of India, residents of Chennai. At the end of a tired working day, the beach is one place we can unwind without having to expend much from our pockets. Beach is free entertainment, especially for the lower middle class. Cruel and thoughtless on anyone’s part to deny even a part of the beach to the public, closing it to lawful denizens of the nation.
Growing up in the sea side of Mylapore, walking 2 km to beach thrice or more times every week in summer was no big deal for me. As a PG student at University of Madras, my class room overlooked the beach, lulling us girls and boys to afternoon siesta, as the sea breeze would set in by 2 pm. Memories of the beach are like a treasure even if I may not be a regular to Chennai beach these days. We have a beach here in Middle East, but this is shallow. Chennai beach is dangerous with its monstrous waves. Super exciting. The beach is a rich repository of sea shells and crabs. Waves on New moon/Full moon days may reach over 6 to 10 feet in height. No wonder the city was devastated by the Tsunami of 2004 washing away cricket playing kids and morning walkers/joggers in hundreds into the sea. Every time there is a cyclonic storm (which is many times every monsoon), the sea level rises menacingly and threatens the metro with destruction, yet a Madrasi’s love for the beach always remains a constant. Some parts of the city beach especially the far flung areas, are nesting grounds for Olive Riddley turtles. The suburban beaches are now private property leased to posh beach resorts. Which makes it all the more unfair for the government to clamp down on the public space of beach erecting unwanted mausoleums on precious sands of the Marina. Every square centimeter of the Marina lost to a Chennaiite is a huge, immense irreparable loss to humanity, in violation of the Environment and Human Rights. Politicians and bureaucrats and their families can vacation in Singapore, Australia and Switzerland. Where will the middle class Madrasi go.
Note: Chennai is also a natural harbour, a very important port in Asia. After Chennai, the next approachable port is the faraway Singapore.
Rounding off this post with a beautiful beach duet shot in the Marina in the 1960s for the runaway hit musical ‘Kadhalikka Neramillai.’