Saturday, November 8, 2014

Urvashi Butalia - Public kissing Western? Public pissing Indian?

How do Hindus make love? Clearly, they don’t kiss as the kiss is really a Western product and against Hindu culture. This could be the reason there are virtually no kissing scenes in Hindi cinema – because most of the actors (barring a few Khan type men) are Hindus, and they can’t be seen kissing publicly, so instead they make do with flowers leaning into each other and music in the background.
I’ve always found this very strange: I’m not sure if Hindu men – at least those who are protesting, particularly in Kochi, and the many who are not protesting but who silently support those who are – find kissing Western, or just kissing in public Western. Also, is it kissing on the lips only that’s objectionable, or the cheeks, the forehead, the chin, shoulder or… (those three dots are for other body parts that cannot be named).
I’m mystified though. Why is it that kissing in public is objectionable and pissing in public is not? Is it because it’s an Indian thing for men to pull their genitals out in full public view and let flow? There’s no doubt it’s a very Indian thing, I don’t know of other cultures who have this habit, so perhaps the cultural appropriateness makes it all right.
But pissing doesn’t have the same problem as kissing – for men at least. You can only piss from one spot and all you can do is to aim further or closer. Kissing though is another story: mothers sometimes kiss their babies on the lips, and in public too. How shocking and Western is that? Fathers sometimes kiss their daughters on the forehead, especially when they are blessing them, and this happens in front of in-laws, husbands, the general public, at weddings, engagement parties. And this too must be Western.
In fact, if we think logically, kissing is an expression of love and the West can’t lay exclusive claim to love. Proof of this can be found in our holy books and epics where people are constantly falling in and out of love. Further – and more modern – proof can be found in our dictionaries and lexicons and our languages where there are many, many words for love.
Kissing too has some words of its own, and even some songs. Perhaps we should ban those too? The Big B will no longer be able to demand, chuma-chuma de de, nor will our heroes (especially the Khans) pucker up their lips and ask for "pappi, pappi".
But words or no words, kissing is still not kosher.Especially lip to lip. Even Kangana Ranaut was shocked at the prospect in Queen and like a good Indian girl, she turned her back to the camera to do it, and good girl that she is, she did it only once. That’s one thing pissing and kissing may have in common: people usually turn their backs to do it.
Actually, I think it’s a good idea to focus on Indian (Hindu) tradition. After all, we have many good things there that we have forgotten about. One of them is called the swayamvar – swayam, ie yourself, var, ie husband, in other words, choose your own husband, or, in today’s context, choose your own partner (this can allow a certain amount of gender flexibility). What if we were to bring this forgotten but time-honoured tradition back, and all women chose their own partners? Who would give a damn then about where and when the kisses will happen?
Purushottam Agarwal : ‘Kiss of Love’: What does it signify?