Ragging and its consequences are in the news again after the death of a 19 yr old medical student recently. Debates and discussions are going on the issue of prevention of ragging and enforcement of laws. My post, however, is not on that topic. My post is on the fond memories of ragging I have from my B.E. days and the effect it had on us.
On the first night in hostel, we had the huge task of memorizing all our hostel seniors’ names and hometowns and our introduction in Hindi. Thank god I had pretty good memorizing power and I was in Electrical Engineering branch which was easily translated into “Vidyut Abhiyantriki”. We pitied the girls of CSE or Electronics.I also chose Philately as my hobby to avoid any further questions and it was one of the cleverest decisions of my life [ You can check out samples of my stamp collection here] Only one 4th yr senior was smart enough to think of a question to ask me regarding Philately. She asked me what was the image on Rs 1 stamp and I answered correctly. She let me go
Our ragging consisted of singing, dancing, jokes, lots of scoldings and ridiculing. Seniors also gave us the tips about college, seniors, studies and teachers. They laid out rules for hostel including bathroom and we had to follow them. The first years were supposed to eat the last. We had to pick up the hostel phone within 3 rings. We were not allowed to wear nightie or night suits in hostel in first year. Only salwar suits. We had a uniform too for college; to identify the first year students. But our seniors never made us write files or assignments or draw sheets for them.
We had to address 2nd years as Ma’am Miss XYZ Ma’am, 3rd years as Respected Ma’am Miss XYZ Ma’am and final years as Honorable Ma’am Miss XYZ Ma’am. It was very funny when someone had to deliver a message from one senior to another. You can imagine the prologue before coming to the point! Our day would start with us wishing all our seniors a good morning. Then we used to leave for college accompanied by two seniors, walking in a single line with our eyes on the “third button” and wishing anyone who passed us by. During recess, we hostelers didn’t venture out. Then in evening we were accompanied back by our seniors. After freshening up, we all went for the evening wish. Then after dinner we went for ragging every night for 2-3 hours.
Once, the fact that I happened to know about sun signs was revealed. 3 seniors called us and asked me to identify who is the Scorpio among them. I requested to look at their faces once. While I was glancing at them, I noticed one had a dimple while suppressing her smile. I knew she must be on cusp of Libra and Scorpio and I said her name as being the Scorpio. She was pleased and impressed with me
Our college even held “GR” i.e. general ragging officially!! It was a day for cross ragging but we hostelers didn’t have much problem. In fact the hardest thing was to control laughter as the senior sirs used to make their juniors do all sorts of funny things. In return for ragging, we were given concessions like no “local” senior could rag us, we carried normal college bags instead of “Gandhi Jhola” and no male senior had the permission to make us do a “ninety” wish. Our hostel seniors took us to movies and market and if any senior is there on the bus to college, we needn’t pay any money. And of course there was the awesome Freshers’ Party!!
We continued the traditions when we became seniors and we had the most wonderful time with our juniors. Some of us and the juniors even went on a one day trip to Sanchi and had so much fun. But after that ragging dwindled and chaos ruled in hostel by the time we left after graduation. For example I was once pushed by a first year girl to get to the “dal” first during dinner time. There were complaints from neighbors and trouble with college administration too.
We were 18 first year girls in hostel. Some from conservative families, some on payment seats (from metros and rich families) and some on free seats (average middle class families like me and my school friend). Ragging made us unite, to look out for each other and to have discipline. The habit of addressing people as Sir or Ma’am got wired into me after ragging only. It also helped me in understanding and following the junior- senior relation at work place too. It helped me learn to control temper and to not backtalk even if the senior is wrong. Whether we like it or not, whether it is good or back, Indian systems function in hierarchies and this is the 1st lesson in life we got through ragging!!! Ragging helped us in learning humility, politeness, and to be comfortable with one’s personality and body.
I hold the personal opinion that there should be harmless ragging in the right manner, within limits of decency and human rights. Harmless ragging means no physical infliction of pain should be involved and no demeaning act should be asked to perform. Such ragging is actually lots of fun and gives us good memories of college & hostel life.
Photos copyrighted to me.
Ragging can’t be ignored by Kanagu