The Human Cohesion Project — 23 Mar 2023
This is the fourth Ramadan with The Human Cohesion Project. It began, intuitively and impulsively in Apr 2020 as the first wave of Covid-19 raged, and against the backdrop of the first lockdown, and what ended up being one of the largest human migrations in history, with over 10 million migrant workers attempting to head back home in India, exposing severe disparities and injustices in the system, in the process. Since then, the Project evolved into a wide exploration of my (and our) relationship with religion, and what it means in our world today.
For those of you who have not engaged with this Project before, it began with an intent to address Islamophobia. It has, for the most part, been structured as a series of blogs during festivals of various religions over the years, with an intention to stir reflections, and where possible, conversations on social media. In the last couple of years, it has also informed my work in other ways, including in the way I teach a paper on religion and conflict resolution in a Masters degree course in Mediation at a University in India, and a few other public offerings to bring in civilians into the peacebuilding process.
I begin with hesitation this year, not sure of the emotional energy I have to write everyday through Ramadan. Yet, a part of me is clear that I cannot not do this work. I do not care much for the outcome of it. But I certainly need to continue to nurture the intent, to show up to myself to reclaim humanity in our religions, that seems to be buried underneath layers of other interests.
For someone whose work is deeply connected to religion, I am barely religious in the conventional sense of the term. I do not subscribe to a religion. Yet I practice several of them, in my own ways, to discover for myself how they attempted to establish a connection to the life force that animates us and everything around us. My external social identities that come with my name, including that of being a Hindu, Brahmin, Indian, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied woman, do seem to influence the way my work is perceived. So I state those as the lenses and privilege through which I do this work.
Over this Holy month, I hope you as a reader will journey with me to connect with the spirit of Ramadan, and share what emerges for you as you read my reflections. Together, may we connect to the beauty in Islam.
Ramadan Kareem. May the month lead us to reconnect with the joy in religion.
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