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Religious slights are the buzz as India marks Republic Day

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On Jan. 25, a Chicago-based sports commentator offended Hindus in his post-game description of a hockey match between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Nashville Predators. Sportscasters are famous for stretching metaphors to the breaking point, but the Chicago commentator was quoted by Indian websites as saying the Predators were “swallowing up space like some weird Hindu god."

The objection is to the word “weird,” which a Nevada-based Hindu community leader Rajan Zed – president of the Universal Society of Hindus – said was hurtful to the feelings of the world’s 1 billion Hindu people.

Offending all three of the main faiths of the world’s second largest country is quite a feat. In hockey games this is called a hat trick.

Sacred cows 

What outsiders generally don't quite grasp about India is that sacredness is woven into almost every act of every day. Unlike post-religious societies, where Westerners may attend church once a week (or once a year), many Indians are constantly aware of their religious duties at work, at play, at meal times. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in the back of a taxi cab, in fear, as a Delhi taxi driver takes his hands off the wheel and puts them together in a sign of respect as he passes a holy shrine.

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