Old City Hall, Toronto
Statements Must Be Made
During the protest chanting session, which
was well attended by over 500 people, I enacted what I told our organization
group I would do. I committed to being a watchdog and an orchestrator of sorts.
Through this last week many phone calls were made and internet promotional
materials sent to inform our congregants and friends that this gathering was
important. Our team was effective. CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) came
and other India-based media networks.
A well-wisher in the crowd came and
recommended, “Keep your mask on,” which was a challenge when you’re being
interviewed. Another person came to me when I sat in the kirtan and
whispered, “The fellow playing the drum behind you is bleeding on his hands.” I
paid not too much attention. “It happens,” I replied and that how it is in
passionate kirtans. Another concerned congregant came up and said,
“Maharaja, the chanting is too happy. Shouldn’t we tone it down?” My reply was,
after looking at the chanters, “They look fairly serious to me.”
The person leading the chanting was
Ajamila, whose ancestors hail from Bangladesh. He has strong feelings about
fundamentalism, which was the cause of his family fleeing to India, leaving
behind all their belongings. And so that’s what the demonstration chanting was
all about; challenging intolerance and fanaticism, which I’m afraid is a threat
to Canada, the U.S. and the world over.
When our chant was completed, I promised the Bangladeshi representatives who had joined, that I would join them in some spot for an evening vigil. From there I walked back to home – the temple ashram – wondering about our beleaguered world. For now, the peaceful but loved and firm approach should send a message. Thanks to other communities who did so well, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Ottawa.
May the Source be with you!