World Literature in English, Spring, '98

Students' Final Take-Home Exams
Spring, 1998

The Role Of Religion in the Indian /Pakistani Texts
In Meatless Days, we see Dadi, the grandmother as believing in God and berating Satan at first. Sometimes though, the narrator is not sure whether she delighted more in God or food. Anyway, we are told that she stops cars and preached to them about God. Since this family story is somehow compared to the national history, during the trying times of Dadi and the family, she stopped praying. This is an allusion to the times when Pakistan is leaving Islam, so to say, in times of turmoil also (the times of civil war). When General Zia declared the Islamization of Pakistan, in the text we have God as leaving home to join the government.¡¨ In the movie Masala we see how Krishna lost its power on the people or has lost its being useful, so to say, especially when Krishna himself offered help and he was rejected with the people saying we dont need you anymore.¡¨ I guess as human beings, we can use religion or we think God only if we are in need and we have no one or nothing to hold on to. Or as in the movie Ive mentioned, Krishna is portrayed in a western suit, so the idea there is that religion or God can be corrupted. The grandmother in that movie even manipulated God or Krishna. And so it seems that there is weakening of faith among the people especially as migrants where there is this sense of loss of everything, especially identity. Thats why the plane has to explode in Masala because of the loss of everything, and everything includes ones religion.

In these two works we see how the faith of the people has weakened and how religion does not answer anymore to the needs of the people. Maybe the idea of believing in God is heavily connected with the idea of a God who gives whatever one asks. Or like the prayer of the children in Salaam Bombay, there is this sense of a god who makes everything all right but the children experienced the opposite as their situation gets worse. Religion, therefore, is used as a means to protect the system or preserve an ideology.