Lo aao dil cheer lo mera,

Na sheher na bashindon mein ab khoon kesara

As I write this, a second bomb blast outside Delhi High Court is rumoured. Eleven are declared dead, scores injured and I cannot get through to my lawyer on his phone.

And I reflect on what could it have brought it on. I will not blame the ones who did it because they are wrong and damaged anyway. Their evil is neither forgivable nor intelligent.  I will not rant about the ineptness of the security forces and the failure of intelligence. We almost live in a police state, here in the centre of Delhi and the layers of irony and tragedy are heaped thick on us.

But I pause, away from the mayhem to what allowed it to happen. On the word kesara, on the colour kesari and all that it meant to us in India.

Kesar is the colour of anger

The colour of sacrifice

The colour of bravery

In blood, not quite red – so not enough to boil

In spices it is the queen.. gently spreading through, more persuasive than aggressive..

It was the spirit above the self, thus placed highest on the flag…

As, in the verse above – where has that spirit gone. Because, I truly believe, that when that spirit stands strong, it becomes the strength of the nation. A moral force that cannot be denied or blasted away.

P.S. A couple of days after I wrote this, I suddenly realised how the colour saffron had been arrogated to themselves by the Hindu Right.  This post has nothing to do with Hinduism or its ‘elements’. It is about a fragrance, a set of values that we seem to have lost.