Three men walked into a parking lot at Ramnathi Temple in Ponda, Goa, the venue of the four-day All-India Hindu Convention which ended Saturday. At one end of the lot was a line of SUVs, their muddy tyres telling the tale of a long journey, and, at the other, cars and heavy vehicles stood neatly aligned, their drivers taking a nap inside.
Exchanging few words, the three got to work. One started chanting as he circled each car; the second sprinkled what they later confirmed was gaumutra (cow urine) on the roof of all parked cars; the third, carrying incense sticks, circled the vehicles twice around all four muddy tyres. A fourth man then opened all the doors and sprinkled a second round of gaumutra.
“This is shudhi karan (purifying),” explained Abhijit Nadkarni, a spokesperson from Hindu Janjagriti Samiti, which organised the convention. At the venue, this was a free service — for all vehicles at the parking lot. Stating that the audience —approximately 500 at any given session during the four days — traveled distances, Nadkarni said, “Their car needs shuddhi karan. We do it to all objects — watches, clothes, sometimes even handbags. It’s a spiritual exercise.”
“Besides,” he emphasised, “gaumutra purifies. Only purifies.” Another functionary explained the exercise as a “clean-up service”. He said sometimes it is also done with camphor in water if gaumutra is unavailable. At the conclave, these exercises were seen as “glue” to bind the “Hindu nation-building” exercise. The conference, which had “all-India beef ban” as its first resolution, had speakers talking about the holy cow. “Why only the cow,” asked Madhya Pradesh-based Sadhvi Saraswati. “Because,” she answered, “she is not an animal — she is our mother.”
At the inaugural session on Day One, the Sadhvi had asked Hindus to stock weapons, lynch “vidharmis” who eat beef, and even hang ministers who consumed beef at iftar and considered it a “status symbol”. The 23-year-old Sadhvi, who left for Belgaum, Karnataka, subsequently, had her SUV cleaned too.
“Please use the word Shudi karan,” corrects Nadkarni again.
Shantaram Naik, Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP from Goa, said he raised the issue of “hate speeches” at the conclave during a meeting of the Consultative Committee of Home Affairs convened by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi. “Her (Saraswati’s) statement reached Delhi, but I find the state government or Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is yet to take any action,” Naik said.
At the conclave, “data” was put forward to explain the significance of cows. Chetan Sharma, an animal rights activist with Maneka Gandhi-headed People For Animals, said a Supreme Court judgment has said that cow is “more important to us than the Kohinoor”. He said that Punjab has most cancer patients since farmers there use fertilisers instead of gaumutra.
“Cow is also the reason for global warming,” he told a live Facebook audience. “When she is slaughtered, something called EPW is released, which is directly responsible for global warming. It’s what is called emotional pain waves.”
Sitting on the sidelines, Sandeep Shinde, a senior functionary with HJS, explained the activity at the parking lot: “All our action has a reason. It cannot be ridiculed. It’s a lot of self-discipline, and the process of cleaning everything is a very old, spiritual exercise.”
Outside even as the “shudhi Karan” continues, the Goan Taxi drivers, probably beef eaters look on. “they like the urine. It’s fine…The rains will wash it all off,” says a driver of an Innova watching the men walk back.