How logical is the demand to ban loud music and gaye holud events?
Reportedly, in an area in Narayanganj, a public announcement was made, forbidding people from playing loud music and holding the pre-marriage event of gaye holud.
It was also stated that if anyone was found to be breaching the order -- issued allegedly by the local mosque committee in cognizance of a local union parishad member -- then local maulanas would not solemnize any weddings relating to the offender or take part in janaza or the funeral prayers of any person linked to those found to disregard the order.
It’s believed that such a strict move was taken since playing loud music has become a nuisance in the area. However, making ultimatums using religion instead of taking legal steps appears irrational.
Religion should be used sensibly
Each and every faith talks of moderation and virtuous living, therefore, religion can be used to deter people from creating a public nuisance in the form of sermons. To counter acts that hamper public peace, there is always the law.
What could have been done was to deliver a message both from the police and the mosque committee that after certain hours, playing loud music is no longer an enjoyment and therefore, if anyone is found to be playing music after a certain hour, then the law would step in to impose fines and, in extreme cases, make arrests.
This needs to be looked at from a practical angle. Once upon a time, say around 30 years ago, gaye holuds were simple affairs held at home with very few close relatives from both the bride and the groom’s side. However, much of the creed of the 70s and 80s underwent noticeable change once the satellite stepped into our lives.
Like it or loathe it, the influence of satellite TV cannot be expunged and the once rather sedate affair has now morphed into an exuberant program which is no less glitzy than the actual wedding ceremony. From a puritanical perspective, the razzmatazz and the pageantry may seem vulgar, but there is a social demand for it.
With respect to people from all social backgrounds, some will opt for toned down programs while others will find excitement in sumptuous events. Since loud music seems to be an issue of contention, one is compelled to draw attention to political music which is played all day and night on certain days at a deafening volume.
However, they don’t seem to create any public nuisance or disturb the virtuous!
Restrained celebrations cannot be imposed
Naturally, any joyful event kept within the boundaries of civility deserves kudos but restrained celebrations can never be imposed on anyone.
If there is a feeling that certain programs are crossing the line of tolerance, the police can be called, or the guardians and elders involved in that event told to take action.
In Narayanganj, some rather stringent measures were declared which appear to be too harsh a punishment for some unalloyed fun.
Wise to keep in mind, we have just ended a fraught year with the coronavirus and months of restrictions/lockdown; after such a long period of following rules and safety guidelines, it’s only natural that people are eager to shed the gloom and doom.
That is exactly why the New Year celebration of 2021 saw such exuberant fireworks over Dhaka city. From top to bottom of the social ladder, everyone wants to shed the malaise imposed by corona; since we are at the heart of the wedding season after prolonged austere living, it’s only natural that the celebrations this year for any event, especially weddings, will be a little over the top.
As for using religion to keep us disciplined, perhaps maulanas should use their power to fight against drug addiction, extortion, corruption, abuse of political posts, and other social ailments.
Any faith, used properly for social welfare, is a tremendous force; unfortunately, they are mostly used for frivolous matters.
If religious clerics and maulanas decided to take up social activism against yaba, eve teasing and sexual harassment, the overall mindset of the youth would have changed.
We see vociferous processions of religious parties against acts in other countries that denigrate our religion but hardly have I seen such unity in denouncing social maladies that continue to plague our lives.
I am confident that if mosque committees in every ward decide to come out on the street against yaba, and become active on social media, giving sermons to the young about a life free of addiction, thousands of youth will be benefitted.
Admit it, loud music, dance, revelry, and a little cavorting are mainstays in weddings. It’s pointless to say that such programs erode moral values. These events add piquancy to life.
Bangladesh was never a bigoted country and nor will it ever be … so, discard the harsh steps and let in a little exhilaration. The last thing the nation needs is a rigid sermon aimed at curbing post-corona gusto.
To end with Shakespeare: If music be the food of love, play on!
Towheed Feroze is a journalist and teaches at the University of Dhaka.