Noisy Faith

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There are several ways and mediums of expressing the faith in the Almighty. Temples are also one of these mediums. Several events are organized at temples for mass expression of faith. Such a religious event – Satsang – was held at the temple near my home for ten days. The organizers of this satsang were utilizing the power of loudspeaker to the maximum. The session timings were 8 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 10 pm. Though the timings were within the norms, the decibel level of the loudspeaker was not. The norms say :-

II. Loudspeakers

1. The noise level at the boundary of the public place, where loudspeaker or public address system or any other noise source is being used shall not exceed 10 dB(A) above the ambient noise standards for the area or 75 dB(A) whichever is lower.

2. No one shall beat a drum or tom-tom or blow a trumpet or beat or sound any instrument or use any sound amplifier at night between 10. 00 p.m. and 6.a.m.) except in public emergencies.

3. The peripheral noise level of privately owned sound system shall not exceed by more than 5 dB(A) than the ambient air quality standard specified for the area in which it is used, at the boundary of the private place.

Now I am not an atheist but I am not a very religious person either. And above all I believe in live and let live. I don’t force anyone to agree with my DSC01338beliefs and practices and I expect the same from others. So being made to listen to bhajans (hymns) at a volume level where I am unable to hear even the voices in my head [ using just an expression don’t worry 🙂 ] doesn’t go down too well with me. I feel the whole point of offering prayers and singing bhajans goes to waste that way because all the Hindu gods must have stuffed cotton wool in their ears. I believe the most sincere prayers and praise are not the ones that are spoken out loudly. Maybe holding satsang sessions has some benefit but my point is that if I wanted to listen then I would have gone to the temple!! I guess same goes for other people living in the neighborhood. By putting up blaring loudspeakers and having absolutely bad singers (you have to hear it to believe how bad can one sing!) who sing bhajans to the tunes of Hindi film songs like “Mere angne me tumhara kya kaam hai” (I recorded it. To listen download from here) ; you are making people like me feel pain and anger rather than invoking any religious sentiments. In fact my mom started to have anxiety and palpitations due to the loud noise.

Decibel levels of common sounds

dB
Environmental Condition
0
Threshold of hearing
10
Rustle of leaves
20
Broadcasting studio
30
Bedroom at night
40
Library
50
Quiet office
60
Conversational speech (at 1m)
70
Average radio
74
Light traffic noise
90
Subway train
100
Symphony orchestra
110
Rock band
120
Aircraft takeoff
146
Threshold of pain

The most direct harmful effect of excessive noise is physical damage to the ear and the temporary or permanent hearing loss often called a ‘temporary threshold shift’ (TIS). In Maharashtra, people living in close vicinity of Ganesh mandals that play blaring music for ten days of the Ganesh festival are usually known to suffer from this phenomenon. Noise can also cause emotional or psychological effects such as irritability, anxiety and stress. Lack of concentration and mental fatigue are significant health effects of noise. It has been observed that the performance of school children is poor in comprehension tasks when schools are situated in busy areas of a city and suffer from noise pollution.

I wanted to go and protest but my mother stopped me citing the reason “we have to live in the neighborhood”. Earlier religious songs used to be played from 6 am till evening at that temple. When my dad protested, the priest and other people present there behaved as if he had committed a great sin by asking them to not play songs loudly. I really fail to understand what sort of worship is this? But yes, the next time this happens I am not going to sit quietly and suffer.

imagesreason-20with-20religious-20people

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now something unrelated to the topic yet somehow related. Nita had written a post on Hindutva and I had commented “Right now I am feeling not so happy at being a Hindu. The temple near my home has organized some satsang since one week and rest I will express on my next post at my blog.”

A blogger misconstrued my comment as some Hindu Muslim thing and wrote on his blog :- “some of my friends are ashamed of being a Hindu just because a temple near their place is having a Sat Sang Session and is chanting prayers/bhajans from loudspeaker .. They think that it’s a noise pollution .. But the same bunch feels very holy and pious when Muslims offer their Namaz five times a day – everyday on loud speakers in every mosque all over India stating that ‘There is no GOD except Allah!!”

The blogger gave me the logic that as a blogger he has freedom of speech and that – “in your comment on Nita’s post, u only mentioned about Mandir .. U never spoke anything against mosque which use loud speakers every day .. that’s the reason I wrote that thing .. It was just my perception and not an allegation”

There can be more people who misconstrue my post too as something I have written against Hinduism and Hindus and may label me with the new term they have coined – “pseudosecularist”. So I want to make few things clear about my comment and my post.

1. I did not write I am “ashamed”. You can go and check what I had written in my comment. I had written I am not happy..and not happy because when I want to protest then people with ideologies like the blogger try to show this logic and make me feel as if its wrong to protest against anything remotely related to Hinduism if one wants to be called a true Hindu.

2. I don’t appreciate any sort of loudspeaker use be it on temple or mosque. I dont support loudspeaker..thats it..nothing to do with Hindu or Muslim.

3. If you are pointing at me then why and how can you say “they have no objection to namaz five times a day etc etc etc” without even knowing my opinion on loudspeakers on mosques? How can you say I feel very holy and pious listening to namaz?? Freedom of speech is ok but that doesn’t mean one can go writing or saying or concluding anything about someone without knowing their beliefs. And due to the same freedom of speech I am clearing my stand in my post.

4. I only mentioned Mandir in my comment on Nita’s post because firstly I was being bugged by loudspeakers on a temple not a mosque incidentally and secondly I don’t have a mosque near my home.

5. Please stop seeing everything through the glasses covered with colors of Hindu- Muslim issues, “pseudosecularism” and stop “perceiving” slightest remark against anything related to Hinduism as “anti Hindu pro Muslim”.

6. If I have to support everything that is done in the name of Hindu religion (in this case having loud irritating satsang sessions) to prove myself to be a true Hindu and not call a spade a spade (in this case noise pollution), then I am better off not being a Hindu. So there.

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Related posts and links :-

Noise Pollution :- Government Rules and Regulations

Proof by Apar

Effects of Noise Pollution

Photographs are copyrighted to me.

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76 thoughts on “Noisy Faith

  1. Resounding post!! I just understand what you mean when people expect you to show the flags of your relgion in everything you do. Like a relative of mine who often blames my lack of “religious” attitude for all the probs in my life. I always ask her – since you are so devout, how come your life has all the family troubles that could exist in the world? That shuts her.
    Like you said earlier – live and let live. Holding on to the anger and hatred only makes things worse not just for us but for generations down the line.
    As for the satsang session – gets my goose too!!

    • thanks! one can’t force someone to feel religious! It has to come from inside. And then one may have different faces of expressing religion.

  2. Reema, a relevant post. Something which needs to be addressed. I have often seen these satsangs and bhajan-keertan increase around the time of exams. and students who live near such religious places find it tough to concentrate.

    I have never understood why one needs mic and the need to make noise about their prayer. Religion is a private matter but they turn it into noise pollution by loud noise.

    This is very fact why I dislike ISCKON temples. Gosh! So much noise, dancing and tamasha goes on there. Looks more like a discothèque than a place of worship.

    I dislike the noise pollution caused by all religious places…be it satsang mandali in temples or prayer calls in the Mosque. Live and let live.

    • Thank you. yes the problem is the use of loudspeakers be it anywhere!! I dont think these people even know what “decibel level” is!! any religious place should serene and peaceful where one can go and relax his mind.

  3. The loudspeaker issue’s religious attachment is irrelevant because these abominations have nothing to do with being religious!

    I’ve a temple near my place, I’ve a gurudwara near my place. I’ve also seen people living near mosques cringe, yes, its a torcher for people living near any such place. What’s more, some residents in my neighbourhood now & then have satsang, keertan etc. in their apartments, some have their inclination towards Radha Swami, some are inclined towards Sikh faith as well & for these the special satsang groups come in vans with their loudspeakers, others having Hindu inclination arrange for their own & it becomes a goddamn torcher when it continues for hours, it feels like crawling slowly & slowly towards an abyss! 😦

    But for me & my folks it doesn’t stop here. The neighbourhood park in font of our building sees people organising parties & weddings etc. & those pissant DJs play crappy music so loud that it just becomes untolerable babble of noise, one can’t even make or receive a phone call as hearing the person on the other becomes impossible!!

    I almost called police during one such party when the jerks continued blasting off even after 12 midnight when the law prohibits loud speakers after 11pm. They stopped the noise pollution before I made the call, good for them!

    So, its not related to religion at all, its all about idiots living in the society under the guise of homo sapiens!

    • Wow!! U have undergone some real tortures!! Thankfully none of my neighbors have had any such thing at their homes. And there is no park near my home too. 11 pm?/ isnt it 10 pm?

  4. At the risk of being branded ‘pseudo-seclularist’, ‘pro-Muslim’ or whatever, may I point out that, while I find the use of loud-speakers at mosques for azaan five times a day equally reprehensible, it at least has the merit of being brief and to the point. The call to prayer does not last more than 3-5 minutes. Contrary to this, the bhajan, kirtan, satsang etc. goes on and on and on…

  5. Reema, think you needn’t bother about those who write posts on their blog misunderstanding you. You were only writing what you yourself experienced and it wasn’t even a post, it was a comment! I think even blog posts are meant to express our own feelings. You have the complete freedom to express your disgust with your own religion without extremist or stupid people insisting that you also need to criticize other religions in the same breath! I have similar feelings that you have about the noise pollution and when I was growing up had the unfortunate experience with Ganesh Mandals. During my 10th boards I had to study with loud music right outside my house, till 3 a.m. in the morning, all film music that too! It was a nightmare for me and phoning the police was no use as during those days there was no law or if there was the police didn’t bother. Today this situation has changed in Pune. People who play music too loudly or after 10 p.m. are stopped. They have become very strict indeed.
    I think all these so-called religious people are not at all religious. They are uncouth, uneducated and inconsiderate, using religion to have their own party. As you pointed out God doesn’t need loud music, it’s his noisy followers who do and they use the protection that religion gives them. The people who play loud music and party till late in the night are at least not being hypocrites. But so-called religious people who have no regard for the laws, no regard for sick people, for students, and generally for others, should not call themselves religious. This is not religion. And there are lost souls who have no idea what is pseudo secularism. If we Hindus do not criticize our own religion, who will? Should we wait for people of other religions to do so? We should in fact be proud to be Hindus that we have the freedom to criticize our religion. Those who think that we shouldn’t are no better than fundamentalists.

    • 😦 I know but I had to explain myself. I just dislike being misconstrued and misrepresented. Loved your last point about pseudo secularism. Criticizing one’s religion does not mean we are praising any other religion.

  6. Same is the case in small cities when there are marriages,Ganpati or some “Jayanti”. People play songs loudly and if ur home lies in the vicinity of that LOUD speaker , you have no other option but to leave that home and stay at ur friend’s home till 10pm.

  7. what about religious processions making traffic blocks etc ? I haven’t seen much in Bangalore yet, but in kerala, it happens quite often .

  8. Pretty cool post. I just came by your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your posts.

    Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon!

  9. First Smita and then you! Somebody is targeting the movie max guys 😀 LOL

    Thoughtful post. I’ve lived all my life close to a mosque and the loudspeaker was mind-blowing… Rather blowing my mind off every single time..

  10. I have always believed that following a faith & religion is an individual choice but nothing should be done in a manner which disturbs or bothers others. In our country following religion is taken as a passport for doing anything and everything. And you are right such events only irritate us leaving a bad taste & feelings in the name of faith. And your comment on that specific comment is apt. Am totally with you on it.

  11. I agree with everything you say here. Religion is and should remain a private thing. And however we choose to practise it, it is should be as far as possible without inconveniencing others.. I fail to understand why people feel the need to propogate sound waves in their religious fervour! I do wish religion would remain what it is meant to be -private..

  12. The purpose of singing aloud was (in the earlier days when vedas and other hymns were chanted loudly) to spread positive vibrations in the atmosphere. The loudspeakers and movie-songs-converted-to-sham-bhajans is pure publicity and politics.
    About the misinterpretation, some people are born to make others’ lives miserable. Can’t really blame them. They are born idiots. 😀

  13. Really !!! I fired many curse at my neighbors when they used to have those “paaths” at their home and somehow they found the need to attach a loudspeaker at their roof in order to disturb the sleep of the entire colony ….. This should be banned 😡

  14. I dont intend to insult any of the religious fanatics here — but such exhibitionism in the name of religion is totally uncalled for. Religious rallies, Noise pollution in the form of bhajans and chanting, bizarre practices that disturb the public, queues in front of the temples that affect the traffic; all these irritate me. and Im sure its not only me ! Religion and practices concerning that should be kept at your own home or within the shrines. Taking that to the streets and making it difficult for the people is nothing but public nuisance. (I had mentioned satirically about this in one of my post loong loong ago)

    and regarding that fella, dont even bother. There are some to read between the lines; they have taken it up as a hobby. Please let them continue that, probably thats their only way to moksha ! and Btw, you shouldve told me about him before, I shouldve taken care of him nicely. LOL 😀 😀 😀

  15. Absolutely right ! I cant say how much I agree with you. Using high decibles of sound is not going to make your voice reach God. A silent prayer is better.

    But it is so hard to argue with the loud-brigade.

    That House quote is so apt, I am copying it.

  16. I don’t know what to say….. Well to sum it up

    1- Loudspeakers are a nuisance whether Temples, mosque, Shaadi, or Rocker in the society…

    2- Regarding the Pseudo-Secular thing…. I do believe that we have defined our secularism is non hindu supporter which is worng (I am not saying u r one of them, but I say that this idea/phenomena does exist).

    thats my take 🙂

    Ps. The decibal levels bit was very informative

  17. Wonderfully said Reema.. I didn’t know what they are achieving by creating the noise pollution in the name of worship… it disturbs many..

    without realising that they have done a wrong, they start to point their fingers on others that if they can, why not me.. 😦

  18. I think loud speakers is just not required at all! I have heard in many temples, songs being sung with out the loudspeakers, and they are great to listen to. Loudspeakers take away the serenity and they are highly disturbing to the neighbours too.

    Destination Infinity

  19. I think ‘Showoff’ is a very important part of any religion. People used to pray before the loudspeakers were invented, didn’t they? And I guess, at that time, they were more at peace with their life!
    It seems that by using loudspeakers, we have royally pissed of all kinds and categories of gods.
    Also, next time the nonsense happens, just call the cops. It happened in my locality also and no one dares to do any such thing now.

  20. I know who that blogger is.. and I really don’t believe that you needed to reply to him/her…

    You talk about religion, Now-a-days, I feel blessed to be an atheist… But on noise pollution, we, Indians don’t need any excuse…

    A neighbor of mine bought a new car. Good for them…!! But they proudly, at 6 am, practice reversing their car with the reverse horn at the maximum… You feel, oh! can’t they just take out the wire while they practice?? or first learn at a driving school, at least!!

    Then I feel, okay, I will sleep early, to make up for the lost morning time… OH! behold, 11pm and the reversing practice begins again… No respite for these, so called, cultured-people-of-Pune.

    I don’t know about people in other cities, but here in Pune I feel, people are least bothered about others and most bothered about God… I mean, they will happily make queue for a temple but no queues while driving… They would not complain about crowd in a religious place but scream your head off if they get jostled in a crowded bus.. I really feel, if people have to develop/evolve, they will have put religion on the back-burner..

  21. Aaaah .. Personal rant on Me !! .. You should have mentioned my Name and my blog link there .. I would have loved those pro-reema-defensive comments !!

    But jokes apart, frankly speaking I felt it too harsh and insulting .. I did not expect this from you .. If you had problems, you could have conveyed to me directly rather than writing a whole insulting post .. I mean, you had put ur view in my comment section and then I mentioned mine .. We could have continued till we were satisfied with each other’s perceptions but I guess you went one step ahead and had turned our healthy debate into a malicious and derogatory public post ..

    Once you had writted down your view on my comment, I even apologised to you if I have hurt your feelings so I guess all these was unnecessary ..

    Anyways, I m disappointed and yes my heart is broken .. With all due respect, I may not come to your blog again .. Bye for ever ..

    • I didnt point out your name because I didn’t mean this as a “personal rant on you”. I meant to clear my stand. I too had found your paragraph in your post very insulting and presumptous. If you had problem you should have replied to my comment on Nita’s blog there only and not write in your post. I dont find this to be a “malicious and derogatory” post because I didnt reveal your identity. You revealed it yourself. I found it derogatory that you wrote I am ashamed of being Hindu and felt pious listening to namaz without even knowing anything about my view. Even in your future responses you said you perceived that way because I didnt write anything about mosques in my comment on Nita’s blog. How ridiculous!! How did u assume that I had experience of hearing a mosque and I had refrained to comment on it? And the reason you gave me was freedom of speech as a blogger. So i too wrote about my stand (without giving any names) as my right to freedom of speech as a blogger and as a person to defend my stand. Why could we have continued in your comments section when u wrote a post about it? You were wrong to write anything about me like that in the first place. Writing first and apologies later dont work dear. I never meant this explanation as a way of insulting you. If I had I hadnt hidden your identity. Rest is upto you. Thanks.

      • Just a note to Soham: I didn’t even try to find who Reema was talking about. And I guess most of people here never even thought of it. So I think it was not a post on you but a post on something Reema thought important to be written.
        Remember the word ‘sportsmanship’? I know this isn’t a game but sportsmanship applies everywhere. Rest is up to you!!!

  22. I am against loudspeakers too. They should be made illegal. It is clearly not a form of worship. I feel holy places should be quiet, else the sanctity of the place is lost.
    It obviously has nothing to do with religion, guess that commenter either misunderstood you or was just an idiot!
    I hope he/she reads this, it’d drill some sense in him/her!

    Nice post. 🙂

  23. Whenever i visit my native place which is a village turned a small township, we hear in the morning four loudspeakers blaring out different sounds (noises) from four different directions of the village, all playing or preaching something or the other on the name of religion. In the bargain one is not able decipher even the single sound.

  24. @Reema:

    It surely is an insulting post .. Can’t you just see the comments section of urs .. I hv been all those adjectives of idiots, senseless etc etc .. I know, for you it is freedom of speech and freedom of writing and all that crap .. But for me, it is an insult and that is because of your post ..

    I said I wont be coming back because I love my self-respect and self-ego much more that I love your writings .. And it does not matter if you lose one of ur blog readers nor nor it matters to me if I lose one of my favourite bloggers .. Part and parcel of life and you have to move on..

    wishing you a nice life ahead ..

    @All-other-who-were-so-nice-to-me:

    I have been abused, defamed, punched, kicked and almost been killed by so many others for things I said. Unfortunately for many of you out there, I didn’t die.

    Again I’m clarifying that whatever I wrote was my perception and not an allegation ..

    • I cant control what people comment!!! My “post” is not insulting. The comment section is beyond my control! And U didnt have to reveal your identity! It is ok if u feel upset and don’t want to read my blog any more. But u only gave the reason “freedom of speech ” at your blog when you wrote about me. Now you are calling it crap!! You didnt write my name and I didnt too. You have no right to write your preception regarding anyone without knowing the facts. So u must understand that I had to explain my stand too.

      You have a good life too. thanks!

  25. A neighbour of mine (back home), a USA returnee complained twice to the police about the church next to his house who keep their loud speakers on all night long. The police did nothing.
    He talked with the church and helped them fix acoustic panels in their church building. He paid for it as well.

    Now the church get their ‘theatre’ effect and he can sleep peacefully and the police did not have to move a muscle.
    🙂

  26. Agree with EVERY word of yours. REligio is a PRIVATE affair and this whole taam jhaam and drama is beyond my udnerstanding.

    Whats with all the noise and calls?Arre! like someone here said god isnt deaf!!

    KAbir too said the same centuries back and noone listened then and they dont look like they are going to listen now :/

    I think this noise pollution be it in the name of any religion is a pain in the neck!

  27. Reema, stay away from these subjects(religion) unless you think you have something very very very important thing to say. Prevention is better than cure.

    Think of cheerful things…… its raining outside….. think what you can do in rain…… 😛 😀

    • This is a v v important issue. And keeping quiet and bearing wrong things just to avoid confrontation is wrong! This is what we have been doing with loudspeakers till now. It is time we speak up!

  28. I would be so nice if one followed his religion inside his home. The temples and masjids both should be banned from using the loud speaker.

    Regarding pseudosecularism i agree with @Prats as that is how it has been defined in our country.

    And regarding you being unhappy for being a Hindu, what can the religion the do for the acts of a crazy people? The religion never said to use the loudspeakers for satsangs…

  29. we got a temple..just beside my home at my home town..

    I still remember the ear crushing sounds of the loudspeakers, pointing straight at my window… ahhh got used to it and everyone in my house and neighbouring houses got into a habit of speaking loudly…

    as they say habit doesnt go off easily.. I still talk at a louder voice than other..

  30. I hate it when my neighbours organise parties. They always play loud annoying music and it wakes up my kids at night. I wrote them a letter once explaining the damage that they were causing, stating that they should organise parties elsewhere every now and again. I mean I used to be young and enjoy the odd party but this was up to three times a week. Eventually they were polite enough young men and did cut down the parties. They still have a big one at christmas though; but I don’t mind then, I’m too busy enjoying my christmas dinners to care!

  31. Nice post.

    There is a reason for using loudspeakers for Azan (not Namaz). It invites people saying its time for pray. You cannot offer it at anytime and also you have to be there on time. Azan are short like 2-3 minutes and not that noisy. I was living in apartment and had mosque in the common plot of apartment. our apartment was surrounded by Hindu community. We had loudspeaker and keeping it moderate level and no one had complained about it. During navartri in we also tolarate 9 night with garba noice near to our apartment which is ok.

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