At the moment, India is alit with festivities..... Ramadan, Navrati and the Durga Puja, to name a few. And for Hindus, it is a time to invoke the gods and goddesses for their blessings and protection.
But do you imagine Marx fitting into this picture? Because in Calcutta, he does. According to this Reuters article, communists are trying to spread the message amongst the throngs of devotees at the Durga Puja:
As the teeming streets of Kolkata brighten up with dazzling lights and people dress up for the Durga Puja festival, communist party officials are using the religious occasion to propagate their political philosophy.
In recent years, communist workers have quietly set up their own stalls at the pandals, selling books and other literature. These do not sing praises of the mother goddess but highlight the lives and works of Lenin, Engels, Marx and Stalin.
"Religion does not hold any meaning for us but the festival does provide an opportunity to reach out to people through social interaction," Ashok Bhattacharya, a veteran communist minister, told Reuters.
Piggybacking on the crowds which throng Durga Puja venues, the leftists also sell books on pet themes such as U.S. "imperialism".
"Books on the India-U.S.A. nuclear deal or the ones on West Bengal's recent economic success are selling a lot," said Shyamal Chakraborty, a senior communist peasant leader, referring to a landmark atomic pact the leftists have opposed.
The communists are also organising street plays on Marxism and exhibitions on the lives of communist leaders near pandals.
And as Marx said that religion is the opium of the masses,
West Bengal's communists, who came to power in 1977 and have won six straight elections since then, have traditionally shunned religious functions and public prayers.
But analysts say the communists have realised they cannot ignore religion in a state of 80 million where many people are deeply religious and pray regularly.
In the near future, will we see "Marx Bhagwan" in the pantheons of Hindu gods and goddess? :)