Saturday, November 9, 2013

Are Indians oversensitive to satire? The Assam Rape Festival

Recently on Facebook, a very good lady friend of mine from Malaysia shared an article posted in the National Report, titled “The Assam Rape Festival in India begins this week” which spoke of a festival that dates back to the year 43 BC, wherein all the men in a village in Assam chase down and rape every girl in the village to exorcise their demons! 

To be honest, to begin with I too read the article with a lot of concern and decided that I need to learn more about this barbaric festival, when I started noticing some cultural inconsistencies and realized that this was a hoax. Unfortunately, many of the other readers were readily fooled by the mock seriousness of the article and had posted comments that were very critical of India and its customs. The indignation of some of the commenter’s was quite funny to me as I was ‘in on the secret’, but I felt that it was necessary for me to write to the site and put things in perspective. My comment to the site is reproduced below: 

 This article is a work of satire. It is as true as the next article in the series “The Great American Mass Shooting Festival Begins Next Week (Response from India) - See more at :, which should be billed as The Great American Mass Killing Jamboree”, perhaps a more 'American' term. Even the section in which it is posted - 'Entertainment' is a dead giveaway. Poorly researched – the names used of the so called protagonists are not even culturally accurate. Not particularly funny too, one must add, but surely we need to thank this author, as all Indians really need to wake up to the problem of violence against women. Rapes do happen in India and happen too often for us to be complacent anymore. One can argue that out of a population of 1.2 billion, there will always be a few bad eggs, but that is a specious argument that we should not hide behind any longer. Many political parties and the media are constantly lobbying for stricter laws and the sensitization of the police and society at large, to make rape an unacceptable criminal act, which will be dealt with an iron fist, and each and every Indian must support such forces. 

The lady friend of mine from Malaysia, who I spoke about earlier, wrote to me and asked me if this festival news was true. My response: “Not a chance. Rape is punishable with life imprisonment. We do hear a lot of rapes taking place but they are on account of individual depravity and not some institutional or cultural sanction. India has a 5000 year old history of civilization and one of the safest places on earth.” 

What really surprises, are the indignant and sometimes vituperative reactions from some gullible readers who were fooled into thinking this article to be true. One is shocked to see how many people are ready to believe the worst of a country like India, which has been a beacon of non-violence, philosophy and ethics since thousands of years and was the cradle that gave birth to people like Gautam Buddha, Mahaveera, Mahatma Gandhi and millions of lesser known personages of the human endeavor story. 

I also read in the news today, that this article has stirred up a major controversy with the story sparking widespread protests among the people in Assam, who say it has tarnished the image of the state. I’m also shocked to learn from Yahoo News that “The Assam Criminal Investigation Department has registered a suo-motu case against the website for posting the "defamatory" article. CID Additional Superintendent of Police Nirmal Baishya said that investigations have revealed that the article was sourced from Uganda and the website is hosted in Houston in the US”. Surely a gross overreaction, I would think. 

The best response to this article was from the internet troll, Frappy the Anti-Masturbation Dolphin - "There better not be any masturbation at the festival." That is the level of seriousness that it deserves!



  2. Dear Anon,

    Thank you for your response to my article. I read the article you directed me to, and still feel that I need to respectfully disagree. A satirical piece is just that - a work of fiction that seeks to poke us in an inconvenient spot. This author has certainly done that - as we have seen an explosion of rapes in the country recently, providing fodder for such articles.

    It is my firm belief that we are over reacting to an article that just seeks to hold a mirror to us. We need to take this in the correct perspective and do something to make rapes a totally inconceivable criminal act, instead of registering a case against some unknown author, or website and other such laughable actions.

    The best responses to the article were, as mentioned in my article, a very hard-hitting counter article talking about the Mass Shooting Festival in America, and of course, the comments of Frappy the Dolphin. We Indians should be able to take a joke, especially since it is based on embarrassing facts that have indeed occurred in our country recently.