Skip to main content

Hindutva "bid" to change Delhi's history: Why forget that that the Capital is a receptacle of many cultures?

By Sadhan Mukherjee*
Delhi is not just a just a city or the capital of India; it is history itself. Who rules Delhi is important, not only in terms of today but for posterity as well. This is so as there is a conscious attempt to eliminate the past and forget its history.
No other existing city anywhere in the world is as old as Delhi. The Pandavas set up their capital here; then called Indraprastha. As the story is narrated in Mahabharata, it dates back to a period of around 3000 BCE. The inner-family war not only ended the Pandava and Kaurava dynasties but also destroyed Indraprastha as well as Hastinapur and the regimes.
A more modern Delhi became a citadel of Hindu kings who established their rule in 50 BCE in North India. Delhi was named after Mauryan king Dhillu. Much of Delhi’s ancient history is shrouded in myths and legends, not supported by any evidence except that Delhi today represents continuity and change. Many dynasties have ruled from here: the Nandas, the Mauryas (who defeated Alexander), and the Guptas whose rule ended in 550 CE.
After these great empires ended, Delhi and its various regions were ruled by smaller kings and warlords. Notable among them were the Tomars, Gujjars, Chauhans etc. The Chauhan king Prithviraj was the last Hindu king who was defeated by Mohammad Ghori in 1192.
Delhi thereafter was ruled by Muslims starting with Mamluks in 1206 and ending with Mogul dynasty in 1857, for nearly seven centuries. In all 32 rulers from 32 Muslim dynasties have ruled Delhi. Then the East India Company took it over from the Moguls following India’s First War of Independence.  A little later the British Empire itself took over the company rule.
Now there is a contrived effort to delete the past, especially the Muslim rule; hence, the bid to rewrite history and rename past symbols, especially roads, so that future generations remain unaware of it. This is the Hindutva bid at forgetting Delhi’s intermediate period of history.
The Muslim rule over Delhi included Afghans, Arabs, Persian, Turks, Central Asian hordes, and several others. Then the British made Delhi the capital of their empire in 1911 and established Christian rule. Some roads named after British rulers have also been renamed.
Why forget that that Delhi is a melange of culture, a receptacle of many cultures? Can one forget Delhi’s kulfi or British ice-cream? Delhi has adopted many things, either by consent or by coercion. It has not been able to retain its pristine culture except its harsh climate.
Today, Delhi is not only a megacity but in reality a region comprising six cities: Old Delhi, New Delhi, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Noida, and Ghaziabad. Delhi is also the embodiment of diversity.
In the process of change, Delhi was captured, destroyed, its citizens killed, women folk raped and taken away. So much so that it is said that following Nadir Shah’s invasion the water of Yamuna River remained red for days together since large quantities of human blood had flown into it.
The occupiers and rulers of different era left their imprint not only on Delhi’s history and architecture but also on its cuisine. With so much of intermixing, Delhi does not really have even any cuisine of its own today.
Delhi cuisine now is truly international. Name food from any part of the world, you have it in Delhi. From Iceland to New Zealand, to various African countries, Middle East, Far East, and of course European including British, Russian, Ukranian, American and Mexican. Besides, food from India’s own varied cuisine from states and union territories are available in this city.
Delhi however has some things to offer in terms of its cuisine, though in modified forms, as it were. These include Delhi’s own Nihari, a sort of beef stew, and Daulat Chat made only in winter through a complicated process of condensing the milk foam.
Then there are Delhi style kebabs, biryani, tandoori, and some modern items as butter chicken, aloo chat, dahi bhalla, kachori, gol gappa, keema samosa, aloo samosa, chole bhature, etc. Delhi’s drinks include lassi and Rooh Afza, and sweets like dodha and jalebi.
Thus Delhi, the cosmopolitan, is truly an international city blending its modernity with antiquity. The attempt to change it to a Hindu city or to vegetarian cuisine only is bound to fail.
---
*Veteran journalist

Comments

TRENDING

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

Visually challenged lady seeks appointment with Gujarat CM, is 'unofficially' detained

By Pankti Jog*
It was a usual noon of November 10. I got a phone call on our Right to Information (RTI) helpline No 9924085000 from Ranjanben of Khambhat, narrating her “disgraceful” experience after she had requested for an appointment with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani. She wanted to meet Rupani, on tour of the Khambhat area in Central Gujarat as part of his Janvikas Jumbesh (Campaign for Development).

There may have been Buddhist stupa at Babri site during Gupta period: Archeologist

By Rajiv Shah
A top-notch archeologist, Prof Supriya Varma, who served as an observer during the excavation of the Babri Masjid site in early 2000s along with another archeologist, Jaya Menon, has controversially stated that not only was there "no temple under the Babri Masjid”, if one goes “beyond” the 12th century to 4th to 6th century, i.e. the Gupta period, “there seems to be a Buddhist stupa.”

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

VHP doesn't represent all Hindus, Sunni Waqf Board all Muslims: NAPM on SC ruling

Counterview Desk
India's top civil rights network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), even as describing the Supreme Court's Ayodhya judgement unjust, has said, it is an "assault on the secular fabric of the Constitution". In a statement signed by top social workers and activists, NAPM said, "The judgement conveys an impression to Muslims that, despite being equal citizens of the country, their rights are not equal before the law."

Violent 'Ajodhya' campaign in 1840s after British captured Kabul, destroyed Jama Masjid

Counterview Desk  Irfan Ahmad, professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany, and author of “Islamism and Democracy in India” (Princeton University Press, 2009), short-listed for the 2011 International Convention of Asian Scholars Book Prize for the best study in Social Sciences, in his "initial thoughts" on the Supreme Court judgment on the Babri-Jam Janmaboomi dispute has said, while order was “lawful”, it was also “awful.”